Yesterday, after six years of teaching vulnerable teenagers, I left my job for new pastures. While I wish I left that teaching job for a full time writing gig, the truth is, I left that job for a better quality of life. I left that job because it was toxic and having a negative effect on my wellbeing.
Now, one would assume that teaching my students, and perhaps teenagers in general, is tough and emotionally consuming. The truth is, my students were, for the most part, respite from the continual chaos, frustration, stress and anger.
I’m not going to go into detail, but my job happiness demise began at the start of this year and things just became progressively worse. Even when I had a school holiday, it would take the entire break for me to finally be able to relax and unwind from another difficult term at work. There’s something vastly wrong with that. I also knew that despite primal eating, stress can still have a tremendous impact on your life. It was definitely taking its toll on my emotional health, and started creeping into my physical health (like the cold-throat thing that almost prevented me running the Aviemore Half), and my relationship with Pat. It wasn’t fair to him that his wife was so wound up and angry over work, all the time.
At the end of July, upon returning to school after a three-week holiday, where it took me all three weeks to finally feel work-stress free, I came to the conclusion that I had a choice in this matter. I didn’t have to work at that particular school, I was choosing to do so. And I could choose to work somewhere different. I let this stew with me for a while.
In August, after yet another a particularly shitty day at work, I bit the bullet and started looking for another teaching job, armed with the information that the local councils in Scotland are desperate for teachers. I never thought I’d return to teaching mainstream education, but found myself rushing home after work that day to fill out a job application that closed the following day.
After a week’s holiday, I returned to work and informed my employer I had applied for jobs because my current one was affecting my quality of life. The next day, I received an email requesting an interview. A week later, I interviewed for the job and was successful. My life was about to change, my emotional health and wellbeing was going to finally improve. A big weight would be lifted off my shoulders.
All this positive change came with some emotional difficulties: I would be leaving my students, and the thought of saying goodbye to some of them cause me to tear up. I was also sad to be leaving my teacher colleagues, but while I can no longer see them on a daily basis, they are my friends and we do a very good job of keeping in touch. But I know ultimately, I’ve made the right decision.
Yesterday was a fabulous last day at work after 6 years and two days on the job. My colleagues and I laughed. My students and I laughed. I played Scrabble, my favourite game, with my students. Some students went out of their way to buy me gifts and cards. So did my colleagues, and not just the teachers. Finally, I got so many hugs goodbye, from kids and colleagues alike; I just felt so loved. And part of me wondered had I made the right decision?
After posting the photo at the start of this post on Instagram, the next post was this:
The universe was trying to tell me I made the right decision. I listened.
And so today, a new chapter in my life began. I walked into a mainstream school after six years at an independent, special school. I was surrounded by kids in uniforms (because that’s what it’s like in Scotland) that wanted to learn and please their teachers. I was in a place where Education is the top priority. Not only was this all incredibly liberating, but I felt a sense of calm. The chaos was gone, and with it, the stress will leave.
I’ve said that it will take time, but my brain will experience a bit of a lobotomy of dealing with all the chaos and stress. And I’m looking forward to it.
In the meantime, I get to celebrate my new job by wearing a skirt, something I haven’t worn to work for YEARS because of the nature of the job.
This is the start of a new chapter in my life, new challenges, and most of all, as I said to Pat yesterday, “it’s the start of a better life. For both of us.”