Wednesday, 11 October 2017

FEELING CRAP: Grief + Uncertainty

Hello all, it's been a while and for that I'm sorry.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since I last posted back in February, some of it good, some of it bad. The last few months have shaped me pretty drastically as a person, likely forever. I know that sounds entirely dramatic, but I felt that I've been put in a ringer, picked up, chucked in a pen with some hungry bears, picked up again, and been dumped in a swimming pool full of very angry bees.

To say I feel chewed up, spat out, tired, and fed up, is an understatement of the century. My life for the first half of 2017 has been a rollercoaster, one that I will never ever go on again and would give 0/5 stars to on Trip Adviser: "Never again, made me puke and have an existential crisis while crying on the floor in my underwear snuggling a crate of ice cream. AVOID!!!11!".

Self-deprecating witticisms aside, 2017 has been a bitch of a year for me and I've never wanted a year to end so badly. for now, he's a recap and explanation for my absence.

Back in February I was offered a job in a local school as a teaching assistant, something I had been waiting for since November. I happily snapped up the place, happy to be able to be in a good job, doing a good thing. It look me a little while to adjust, but once I felt comfortable, I loved it. I loved my fellow TA's, the teachers, even the kids. I was extremely busy making resources, taking revision classes an so on that I found little time not energy to update this blog around my responsibilities. 

Sadly as I was JUST for the English department and JUST to help the kids come exam season I was let go...with three days notice. I knew it was always a possibility with agency work, but actually being told on a Tuesday that my last day was the coming Friday with no way to say goodbye to the kids I'd been working with was extremely hard. Anyone who has worked in education will likely now this feeling, they became my little ducklings that I held under my wing and helped as best I could. I actually sobbed when I saw some of my students in the local paper receiving their GCSE results. Perhaps I'm just a soft sap, but they were my kids and I am still ridiculously proud of them and still very sad I didn't get to tell them how much so.

In desperation, I took a cover job for the remainder of the school year at another school in Essex. It took me forever to commute, the kids had more behavioural issues (with inadequate support), and I was pushed beyond my limits, skills, and expectations. I was threatened, belittled, and treated with no respect from both students and higher levels of staff, plus derogatory comments were made online about me and fellow supplies. Yes, really. 

Going from working in a place that, on a whole, appreciated me and did all they could to support me, to a place that didn't seem to care about my physical or emotional well-being was hard. The students were being let down by school that focused more on its outward appearance as opposed to actually fixing it's deep-rooted issues, which made some children lash out on me. I was made to feel that I was single-handedly the person letting these children down, which is a deeply traumatising notion to deal with.

It was only recently when my friend shared her own, and fellow trainee teacher experiences that I realised my situation was exactly the same. I was having the same experiences as a trainee teacher, it wasn't my fault, it was relatively 'normal' for someone new to teaching, but I was made to feel, on a public platform no less, that I was an utter failure. I experienced what that same friend has called 'Teacher Trauma' which is a very real, very scary thing; it is something I will probably dedicate a whole post to in the future due to the fairly invisible nature of it in schooling.

Leaving said last school at the end of the academic year was a relief, a huge breath of fresh air, and a much needed respite given the hard few months I'd had.

Preceding my job woes, my Nan passed away suddenly in May. It was an extremely hard time, we were extremely close, with her being more of a second Mum than a Grandparent. She was my best friend, my confidant, and I spent an exceedingly crazy amount of time with her. Her loss is something I'm still struggling to fully understand as a lot of my identity was enmeshed with her. I was her carer, her confidant, her librarian and wheelchair driver, not to mention toffee smuggler.

It's still, a few months on, something I struggle with daily. Losing someone you are close to is hard, losing them so suddenly is even harder, and losing someone who was such an integral part of yourself is dehumanising. I haven't fully returned to my old self since before her death, I dress permanently in jeans and baggy jumpers, I struggle to put on half way decent make-up, and I resign myself to a messy ponytail pretty much everyday, because I honestly can't manage anything else consistently anymore.

My experience with grief is something I will explore more in specific posts; grief and its aftermath are not something that can truly be 'tagged' on to an update post like this, not in its full potency anyway. For now I will say that grief and loss are not talked about enough, the experiences we all have in the face of loss are so uniquely devastating and intrinsic to each of us that I don't know what I can do or say that may help, but I feel the need to talk about grief in the hope that maybe one person can be comforted as they traipse a very hard path.

2017 has been a year of soul-searching, particularity in the last two months were I have considered my future options. Teaching is definitely not for me, the experiences I had were too traumatic for me to wish to return to secondary or primary teaching. I have taken up an MA in English to pursue my pipe-dream of becoming a University lecturer in the future, but I'm currently stuck in where to take my employment for now while I study for my MA, and later PhD. Do I return to my earlier dreams of journalism? Focus on monetising my art work and design? Do I become a full-time carer for my Granddad who is slowly in the need of more help as he reaches 90? Or do I take a more normal job, maybe in a bookshop or a cafe, and balance all of the above while adhering to the stereotype of Literature graduates working as a Barista?

I still have a fair amount of soul-searching to do and large decisions to make with very little space in which to work it all out. Professionally and personally, I've taken a battering in 2017 and, while it has destroyed me in some aspects, it has also forced me to work out my priorities and where my passions lie. for that, I am grateful, though when I'm writing my dissertation I'm sure I'll curse the day  I decided to complete my education so soon.

All I know currently is that I want to try and finish 2017 strong and to go into 2018 knowing I did my best to turn around what has been a truly shit year for the most part.

I don't know exactly what's in the cards for me yet, but watch this space, we might find it out together.

- Georgia xo

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