New Beginnings

Wow… Hi! It’s been a while hasn’t it?!

It’s September 6th. Usually I’d be now in school teaching. I’d have had an INSET day yesterday to ease me back in to the school year, catching up with colleagues, politely swapping stories of holidays (theirs abroad in exotic locations, mine the usual short trips to Devon and Edinburgh) and discussing how quickly six weeks has gone by, as it invariably always does and how good/bad the weather has been.  I’d have had a restless night’s sleep last night with the annual ‘I can’t control these kids’ dream/nightmare as the subconscious anxiety of each new class/classes hasn’t diminished in eighteen years in the profession.

However, none of that has happened this year, because on July 20th I hung up my teaching cape and mortar board (okay we don’t actually wear those, though I did start teaching at a time when chalk boards were still a thing) for what I think/hope will be forever.

So it’s a Tuesday morning and my 8 year old has gone off to school for his first day in a new class – something he will repeat for the next seven years (and I’m already wondering where the time has gone)! And here I am – officially unemployed. Sort of. It feels really weird to be not driving off to work. Weird not to be immersed in everything new that September usually brings as it’s what I’ve done for all of my adult life.  Weird, yet at the same time good and right. I thought I’d miss it more than I do, but I actually don’t. I guess I’ve been gearing up to this day for the last six years or so really. Since my breakdown in 2009 – things in my professional world just haven’t been the same. And my personal circumstances changed immeasurably and in ways back then I could not have envisaged.

So what will I do for a wage, you may well ask? I’ve no spouse bringing in the dosh so I can sit around living the dream! There’s just me and a fostering allowance paid for looking after my nephew. BIG responsibility! Gulp. Well, from next week, the plan is I have a homework club to run for an hour after school four nights a week, when I get some customers that is. I’ve spent the summer setting up the business (though ‘business’ sounds the wrong word to be using when working in education in whatever capacity it may be). However, that is what it is, I guess.  Next I have to market it (see,  business words already in use) now that there is a website up and running (thanks to an amazing friend of mine).  In the meantime,  I have a couple of children whom I will be privately tutoring, and I have been lucky enough over the summer to have sold a painting and given my services over to ironing for friends to earn an extra bob or two whilst things may be slow to start up. None of this, nor my fostering allowance, will pay the whole mortgage at the end of the month though, and so I really need my business idea to work.

When my final wage was paid in to my account on August 31st – there was a ‘gulp’ moment. There still are ‘gulp’ moments. There’s no wage at the end of September until I secure children to come to my homework club… eeek!

BUT…

I had to take a leap into the unknown. I had to whip away the safety net. I have to remember my long term goals. Or even the short term ones. I want to finish my book. I want to paint more. I have a little boy to raise and look after and those who think they don’t need so much as they get older couldn’t be more wrong. They need less of certain things, but more of others. Teaching is, even in a part time capacity as I’ve been doing for the past five years, a time consuming, mentally draining distraction I don’t need or want anymore. I have a goal of enjoying life and to do this I need it to be multi-faceted.  Working yourself into the ground in a stressful occupation, even if it is well paid and has a secure pension arrangement, doesn’t equate, for me at least, to a happy and fulfilling life. I don’t hate teaching though. It’s what I’m good at and enjoy the basics of what teaching is all about.  I’d miss working with kids if I don’t do anything in the line of work I’ve done all my adult life.  But there is more out there I want to do in addition which when working in school, I have little time or energy left for.

And so…my plan is… (has been since April time when seeds first started to form, only now it all feels a bit more real!)  to earn an adequate amount through tutoring and running the homework help club under my own terms. Working for myself, working for children and parents, rather than a misguided government I don’t agree with.  This will be done in evenings after school or on Saturday mornings. Meanwhile, during term time I can use the mornings to write and hopefully finish this novel. I often think it’s been taking too long, but I only started the new total re-write last November. I’d had a target of finishing first draft by June, but this didn’t happen. Now I have more time, I’m hoping by October half term I’ll have reached the end. Over the summer I had a breakthrough in a part towards the end where I was struggling to see where to go with it next – or at least how to get to the next part to bring the story to its planned climax, and now I’ve had that I can crack on. It’s been a while, so my writing fingers may be a bit rusty, but I’ll soon get into it I’m sure.

But it’s weird…this been at home (alone) in the daytime thing – though like anything I’m sure I’ll get used to it. My only fear is…there still won’t be enough hours in the day!

How about you? Have you changed your work life in a big way? How did it pan out for you? Are you a teacher who gave the profession up for something else?  (I often read of folk who go into teaching after something else, but rarely of those who escape it permanently – unless at retirement) Will I be back in the classroom before the year is out?!

I’d love to hear of your experiences.

Thanks, as ever,  for reading.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “New Beginnings

  1. Scribbeetle

    Well, there’s a question that threw me a bit off guard today, given that I guess I’m in a similar situation to you right now, except my leaving work was less a choice and more a result of the entire company, all eighty years worth of it, going into liquidation in April of this year. (I could start a rant about now about the whole awful mess but I think everyone on my twitter is sick of hearing about that, so I shall spare your blog.)

    That place was never my career. It was a thing I did to bring in money. Career, though, has always been an uncomfortable topic for me. |I remember sitting in Connextion assemblies and PSE classes feeling this deep uncomfortable sensation, what with all the talk of ‘future’ and ‘career’ and ‘which universities are you applying for?’ While I don’t lack work ethic, I have always lacked ambition. I used to think I just wanted to tell stories and not have an awful job, but now I’m nearly thirty -constantly reminding myself how that doesn’t really matter, that breakthroughs come older and younger, never mind the fact that I have no idea what breakthrough I’m looking for- I have always been the sort to drift, to throw all my eggs in one basket and go fully at what I was doing, but with no plan for the future besides ‘get this done now.’ I’m not even sure I’m a writer anymore and that… makes me incredibly sad.

    I suppose I’m regretting it now. But I also suppose I can’t change who I am. I can’t force ambition where none exists. It’s good to see somebody who is taking the steps you are and moving forward.

    I hope your book is completed and published. I’ll be in the queue to read it. There was a time, growing up, when I feared there would be no more writers of that ilk, that the whole system wouldn’t exist now but perhaps I was wrong. After all Waterstones still exists (even if they won’t employ me *weep*), digital technology has not subsumed the entire industry- on the contrary it’s helping new unpublished writers find their place, while also NOT really destroying the industry as a whole, as I think some feared they might. Isn’t that always the fear, though? Printing press destroyed the scribes, Video killed the Radio star, DVD massacred the video, etc. Things don’t end, they just change. Maybe we have to change with it if we have any hope of surviving.

    I have rambled too much at you and am not even sure how muvh sense this makes. Sorry. Good luck. ❤

    • Oh! I lack ambition. Totally! And so I totally get where you’re coming from in your feelings as I’ve been there, worn the T-shirt and thrown it away again! I never really had a ‘career’ in teaching as such. I taught. That’s it. I remember very early on in my ‘career’, my then boss sitting me down and asking me where I saw myself in 5 years time, and I was like “What? I don’t know what I’m having for tea tonight and you want me to crystal ball gaze.” No. There is nothing wrong in having a job simply to pay the bills. This is what I’m doing – I just happen to have a qualification in teaching which means I can choose something a bit different, but I couldn’t for example walk into a job in retail.

      My art and writing are hobbies. I don’t expect them to pay the bills, I just want more time to dedicate to them as I enjoy them. That and walking and other such whimsical fancies. Nothing in life is static or certain but we live in a society that expects us to be. It’s a very odd concept when you think about it. As for my novel, again the end goal is not necessarily publication. Obviously if I feel when it’s finished its worth putting out there I will try, but in the meantime I simply enjoy the act of creating something. It’s a challenge and an enjoyable one at that.
      I also don’t think we should pigeon hole ourselves. I may well have ‘teacher’ written through me like a stick of rock, but I’ve always bucked against the stereotype as much as possible and have always seen myself as so much more.
      I know my change has been self motivated and yours inflicted, but try to see that change as an opportunity. You have experience now in retail. You can earn money working in retail and you may find a future employer has more to offer than BHS did. Then do the other things you love on the side. There is nothing to stop you. Don’t put heavy weighted expectations on yourself that they have to be the things you do to earn money or to give your life focus. Do them when you want to if you want to and earn money in any way you can – even if it’s not ambitious. We are human animals – here to survive. Jobs just help us keep alive really. Granted nicer to have one you really enjoy – but often that’s down to the mindset you approach it with. I’ve worked in factories, on milk floats as well as in schools and you know all of them were just a means to an ends and I enjoyed them all in their own way. Teaching I’ve given up just because it doesn’t fit me anymore. Simple. That’s okay though. Why would I have wanted to chain myself to something at 18 for the rest of my life? That works for some people, but rarely. Look at them. Most are miserable or stressed or both.
      Plus you are 29! Gosh. You are so young! (Which I know is annoying to hear – but you are!) Drifting is not a problem. I think if you change your mindset to stop trying to conform to what the societal constructs we have built for ourselves expect, you’ll find the breakthrough you’re looking for. But don’t force it!

      And thanks for your good luck messages! 🙂

  2. katiereablog

    I’m intrigued by reading your post and I am looking forward to reading more so I am following you. Welcome and good luck.

    • Thank you, Katie! I don’t blog as much as I used to and I started off with this being about writing and then it turned into a lot of venting, which I’ve stopped doing so much as I like to spread more positivity about the world. (Older and wiser than when I started this blog!) Hopefully now I’m off the rat race I’ll get to blogging a bit more! 🙂

  3. Best wishes for your journey.

  4. Hello and welcome back. I went through something similar when I took up freelance writing. I never regretted it, even during the lean times.

    I had a big move myself in April, now living in Cornwall. So yes, some big changes 🙂

    • Hello! No, I don’t think I’ll regret it at all – even in the lean times. To be fair…times are quite often lean anyway!

      And oooh! Great move to Cornwall. Beautiful. I want the Hebrides at the other end of the country…One day. It’s in the ‘plan’! 🙂

      Hope you are loving it!

  5. Pingback: New Endings | Writes of Passage

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