When I finished my A levels, I decided to go to art college.
My family were supportive of my choice but they were shocked. It’s a well known fact that I can’t draw to save my life. I must have been in denial about my ability but in the three (yes, three) days I stuck it out there, I realised it wasn’t my thing.
The turning point for me was life drawing. I hadn’t ever seen a naked man’s body in person at this point (Yes - I was a late developer!) and having turned up late to class that day, I found myself having to sit right in front of him. After two long hours I was the not-so-proud creator of a poorly proportioned line drawing of a man with a small smudge between his legs. At the end of the class, all the sketches were lined up and of course, mine was completely ridiculed. It was a rubbish drawing and I deserved it so I’m not scarred for life by the experience (the model’s words were “wow, that’s not complimentary”) but the next day I found myself sitting in the office of a company called ‘Connexions’ who helped young people find jobs. And I can remember sitting there with my sad, nearly empty CV and feeling this weird feeling that the world was completely at my feet, but I just didn’t know what to do with myself. Did I go into full time work? University? College? An apprenticeship? And what would I do? I had no idea. It was a horrible and overwhelming feeling.
Less than a year later, I found myself at the university of Kent for the first time, studying Social Sciences. It was at some point during those three years that I decided I wanted to teach. Towards the end of my third year, I successfully enrolled on a PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church, with the goal of teaching Health and Social Care.
I never felt right while I was training to be a teacher. I always dreaded the next day, counted down to the holidays, and didn’t enjoy an awful lot of what came with the job. But I ended up being the first on my course to secure a full time teaching position, at one of my placement schools. I found it tough. I hated my subject. I didn’t agree with the BTEC’s assessment pattern. I was up till gone midnight, 7 days a week, and I ended up burning out. 7 months into my first full time teaching job, I was on medication and signed off work with stress. I felt like a failure. The school were unsympathetic. I ended up leaving and taking a job at my old school, doing photocopying and preparing resources. It certainly wasn’t what I had pictured myself doing.
But two months later, I found myself in front of a class again, covering for an absent colleague in A level Government and Politics. And, for a while, I was happy. I could even at times say I loved the job. But gradually I felt that dread about the next day creeping back in. I started getting migraines. I knew it was time for a change once again.
This was a year ago. And I can honestly say I’ve changed more in the past year than ever before. I feel like I finally know who I am, and I am comfortable with it.
My colleagues at the school called me brave for making such a big career decision. I don’t think it was brave. After experiencing such an unhappy job, I know that I never want to feel that way again. I won’t say I’ll never go back to teaching but I think it’s unlikely. I don’t regret the mistakes I’ve made because they have all shaped who I am today (that could not be more clichéd if I tried but it’s true).
And right now, I feel just like I felt on that day in the ‘Connexions’ office at the age of 18. The whole world is once again at my feet. The big difference is, I’m not overwhelmed and I’m not scared this time. I’m excited about the challenges and adventures ahead of me and I’m more prepared for them than ever before.