Grab a cuppa readers – this one’s a biggy! Please excuse the length but there’s no cutting corners here, you need to know the truth and the truth comes with a hefty story!
Since I posted my blog about leaving teaching (Live life in the moment; why I left teaching.) I have had a lot of views! It has had over 2,000 views (I know that’s not viral but I think it’s a lot and I’m proud of that) and a lot of people have responded in some form. Now, this amount of views gives me a mixture of feelings; happy that I’m reaching people, proud that I might be helping people, encouraged that I’m not (and wasn’t) alone but also sad that so many people understand the way I felt and the struggle I went through. So many people, so many teachers are still struggling and this makes me incredibly sad. So many people can’t see the way out which scares me for them as I know exactly how that feels.
Since posting that blog I have realised that the one thing I searched for the most when in that situation was a way out, an escape route, a door to a new chapter and support and advice on this. There have been a lot of blogs about what’s happening to education that most people pretty much know why teaching is difficult now, people who are in it, although able to take comfort from the fact that they’re not alone, must just want to know if a way out is even possible and, I suppose if getting out is actually worth it. I know I did. All I ever wanted to know was what would happen next. So, I want to write this blog for all the teachers out there who want to do it, they want to leave but they feel the same as I did and are petrified because teaching is all they’ve ever known. Now, before I begin I want to point out a few things; this is MY journey, this cannot and WILL not be the same for everyone, we are all different and lead very different lives. This is also NOT me saying that all other jobs are easy (far from). This is just MY journey, MY story. I just want this blog to give people hope more than anything and perhaps, somewhere along the line, spark ideas and inspiration.
At least once a week when teaching, I would type the words “I want to quit teaching but what can I do next?” into my Google search bar and all I ever got back was how my skills could apply to many jobs, lists of jobs I could think about doing, stories about how teachers ended up with super flashy jobs or ended up doing part time work and working from home. I am NOT dissing these stories, this is GREAT for those people but the reality FOR ME was that this just wasn’t going to happen soon enough for me. I needed to get out of teaching quickly before it ruined my life (dramatic but true). These jobs just weren’t coming my way and I didn’t even have the mind space (or time) to look for them.
So, the question I have been asked the most since that last blog, “well, what did you do?” “what are you doing now?” “how did you get out?” “how can I get out?” To the people who have asked me that, I have stressed the fact that we are all in different situations, in different places in our lives but that if we want something enough, I truly believe there is a way for everyone. When I was thinking about leaving, a friend who had already left said to me “make sure you have a plan.” Sounds great right? NOT FOR ME! I had NO IDEA what it was I wanted to do, I didn’t have a plan and I couldn’t figure out how to get one together. I felt like my time was running out to make the move to leave and there wasn’t a plan in sight. In my final year of teaching, my goal was to get through to the end and to do that, in the most “sane” way possible, I couldn’t think about anything other than the task at hand, getting through each day. In all honesty, because of the stress and upset I felt, I had no energy to even think about what was to come next, I just knew I had to get out.
So I did, without a plan, without another job lined up and without a vision but I don’t regret a single thing. Don’t get me wrong, if you CAN have a plan and something lined up this would be much, much easier but as I said before, I didn’t have energy for a plan! I realise I have started to ramble so, I’ll get to the point – WHAT DID I DO?
To understand my story, you need to know the following:
I am 28
I am married
I live in rented accommodation and
I don’t have any children.
Some may say a fortunate position to be in when thinking about a career change but it did (and does) come with struggles for everyone never mind your situation.
In July 2016, I left, with my resignation starting from September 2016. I thought that summer would give me enough time to sort myself out. What I failed to realise was that with a wedding planned, a honeymoon and a well-deserved rest on schedule, I didn’t actually have much time to job-hunt and the time I did have I felt like I didn’t want to look because, after getting through one of the most difficult years of my life, I DESERVED A BLOODY BREAK TOO!!!!!!
So, my job hunt officially started in September and in the month where we were using my last ever teaching pay cheque to help. September floated by. It’s all a little blurry now; time was going so quickly, probably because I was happy and enjoying myself. I was blogging, job-hunting, running, baking and doing all things to help me get back to being me again and I LOVED EVERY SINGLE SECOND! If only I could live that way, ha-ha!
Some of my baking treats
Reality was that I couldn’t. I have a dream of one day becoming a writer and I very much intend to chase this dream but until then, we have bills to pay! Yes, we live in rented accommodation which means no ties of mortgage payments but I had rent to pay and bills too. My husband is a plasterer, he has just started his journey in plastering and it’s very unpredictable so I knew me being out of work was putting added pressure on him and I didn’t want that and in that realisation, my job search got real. I realised I couldn’t be picky; I would apply to anything and everything (within reason, maybe a BIT picky then). It was quite tiring and disheartening at times; application after application, CV writing and rewriting, financial workings out all the time, the odd interview here and there and rejection after rejection. Shit just got real. What if I never found anything? Why wasn’t I finding anything?
I decided to sign up with a local council agency that would help me find a job and I can’t recommend this enough. The process for the agency was an application (like a job application), a few tests (typing, maths and telephone) and an interview (fairly informal). They take down what you are ideally looking for and whenever any jobs in your local council come up, they notify you and check if it’s something you’d be interested in. Meanwhile, I still needed something and there was no guarantee from the agency so I carried on looking. I needed something, even if it was temporary. Now, what temporary jobs could I find around this time of year? Retail!!!! Yes, it wouldn’t be ideal after years of having lovely Xmas holidays, I’d probably be working Xmas Eve and Boxing Day however, who cares, I was happy and we needed money. So, I went for it. I applied to a few shops (still being quite picky, woops) in town. I had an interview for ‘The White Company’ – I LOVE this shop. I went to my first proper interview in a VERY LONG time. I had a mixture of feelings; excited, nervous but most of all apprehensive, I HAD NO IDEA what to expect. The interview was fine, I actually felt like I did really well and the lady told me how a lot of ex teachers have applied for a job there in the past. However, it wasn’t meant to be, I had a call explaining that although I had a good interview, there were others with more experience, of course there were! I had ZILCH experience of retail. I really needed someone to give me a break, give me a chance; I put my heart and soul into everything I do but without a chance to show people that, I mean nothing.
I had an interview in Kiehl’s (an amazing skincare company, if you haven’t heard of them). This was great I thought, a company I had heard a lot about, a chance for a new experience and hopefully some great benefits along the way (at the time, I didn’t realise that the benefits were completely different to my expectation and you’ll see why soon). I GOT THE JOB! They took a chance on me and that is something I will be FOREVER grateful for! My first day, I was excited! I got dressed, put my hair up and felt so positive about this new experience. WOW, I bow down to all those in retail because my first day opened my eyes to the challenges, it was tough! I had revised all the different products and I had worked so HARD before going in but there were still questions I couldn’t answer, still people I couldn’t please and still things I needed to learn. It was tough but fun too! Each shift was different, a different day, a different time, different people and different challenges but DIFFERENT was good. I welcomed change! I welcomed a walk to work with my headphones in and not having to face a mountain of paper work or a new pile of books to mark. I was happy; my main aim and I guess in hindsight my “plan” before leaving teaching. I didn’t miss teaching at all. I did miss all my friends (and still do) but not the job, not the feeling it gave me! Don’t get me wrong, a little piece of me will always miss it deep down but not the reality of it, the ideal, what I wanted it to be!! What I did miss though was the feeling that I was helping children or at least having an input in helping them. I did want to find something that gave me an opportunity to do that. Well, a month into the job at Kiehl’s, I had a phone call; the agency had found a job for me. It was an admin role with an agency in the council that is built around helping children! As much as it killed me, I had to let Kiehl’s down, I had to take this opportunity as it wouldn’t come around again. Telling Kiehl’s was hard, I hate to let people down, especially when they have given me a chance and an amazing opportunity and ESPECIALLY when I had made friends in the new people I worked with. Yes, that’s right, in the month that I worked there, I made some amazing friends! People who were interested in what I was interested in, people who wanted to talk about the same things as me and people who had weird obsessions like me! See, I’m a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason and I believe I got the job in Kiehl’s for a few reasons, one being a new and amazing experience and the second being the benefits and no, I’m not talking about any discount, I’m talking about the friends I made! The best benefit you can get from a job I think!
So, that little but lovely chapter of mine was over and a new one was about to begin. A job in admin and through this job I could be opened up to so many new experiences and so many new opportunities; I was excited. It is initially a temporary position but I am hoping that if I show them how committed, hard-working and determined I am, they’ll want to keep me! Wish me luck!
So, here we are now. I have been doing this job for two weeks now and to begin with, it was a tough change, it was bound to be. I think anything would be! Now though? I love it! It challenges me daily, it entails me doing things I love like using computers and organising things and although I am way, way in the background, I like to think I’m still helping them to help children of our future in some small, little way!
What I also love about the job? I go to work each morning not through any rushed, horrible motorway traffic, I do my job and I do it well (I think so anyway), I’m busy, I’m challenged, I’m enjoying it, I speak to some lovely people (and I have met some really lovely people already) and at the end of it, I go home to my life! MY LIFE! The life I NEVER knew I had when I was teaching. Then the following day, I do it all again but the difference? I am refreshed, I am awake and I am excited! I am smiling!
I honestly, HONESTLY cannot remember a time when I felt this much like me, this happy, this relaxed, this content, this excited about work and I am sitting here now, on MY weekend doing things I want to do!
At times, I find myself feeling incredibly lazy. Not because I’m sitting around or inactive but because I’m doing things for me. Deep down somewhere in me, my body is telling me that because I’m not stressed or anxious or worrying about work then I must be doing nothing but the funny thing is, I’m doing more now than I ever have, it’s just that stuff is for me!
I have to just finish with this story that might not mean anything to you but it does to me. I went to Sainsbury’s the other night after work (out of choice); it was about 5:30pm and mid-week. I walked in thinking about all the things I could do when I got home, I walked into that store looking at everything and taking it all in, the brightness didn’t annoy me it excited me and the evening ahead wasn’t stressing me out, it was making me feel happy. I remember a little while ago HAVING to stop at the same shop on my way back from school and I had to drag my feet around, the idea of just walking to the milk aisle was annoying, the brightness was annoying and the last thing I needed when I felt that tired, the last thing I wanted to be doing was shopping and all I could think about was how the night was nearly over and how I’d have to get up soon and do it all again. I was wasting my time worrying and stressing but I couldn’t get myself out of it because I was too tired to function. My new life, albeit on a tighter budget, has given me just that, my time back and I am so very happy!
Even though (and you’ll be glad to know it) we’ve got to the end of this blog, I don’t believe this story is over because this obviously isn’t the end of my life after teaching, this is very much just the beginning but the moral of this blog is that for once in my working life, I CANNOT wait for what’s to come! Leaving teaching was stressful and worrying, it was scary and it perhaps seemed stupid to others at times but for me, it completely paid off (so far anyway)!
As mentioned above, I’m not saying this is the path for everyone, I know some people will need a plan B, I know that but hopefully if you’re reading this, this has given you hope that there is life after teaching. You just have to go and find it!
Just know that in the end, you’ll be okay!
Everything happens for a reason.