I’ve sat down so many times to write this blog post and even now, with everything so clear in my head, I know it’s going to be hard to articulate how I felt and how I feel due to the complexity of the situation.
This life changing situation.
That may sound drastic to some of you but that was the reality of my life.
And now that I’ve decided to say what I’m going to say I feel a little nauseous about opening up like this to everyone. Most people in my life don’t even know this about me.
I was blown away by the reaction to my story on Instagram about leaving teaching, from other teachers, strangers and friends.
One lovely and supportive message struck home with me. Sharing my story may help others.
I’m also very wary around talking about such a sensitive topic. Everyone has their own experiences, views and opinions.
But here is my story and how I got to where I am.
Mental health was something I was never overly aware of. Even during the hardest periods of my life, I never thought about it. It was just a feeling I had. I never thought about the physical or knock on effects it was having on me. I just got on with it.
Fast forward a few years and I was getting ready to start my teaching diploma. After spending a summer in America, I was on a high and ready to start something new.
That high didn’t last long. I found the DIP so hard and to be completely honest I hated every second of it. But finishing it was the “thing to do”. I remember constantly telling myself to keep going and see what the real thing was like.
Was it any better? Unfortunately not.
2 years of subbing, which gave me crippling anxiety. I remember feeling sick and having a break down every time I’d get a call to sub. Another school, another culture, another set of rules and hundreds of new faces to get used to just to be thrown into the same situation all over again in a few weeks time.
Then there was another two years, a little more settled but in a new school each year. It was during this time I found a love for special needs teaching and I even went on to further my education in that area but something still wasn’t right.
It was during these years that my anxiety physically presented itself and I still didn’t realise that’s what it was. That constant sick feeling that nothing would cure. Visits to the doctor and herbel remedies, with no results.
Teaching is a tough gig. The pay issues, the extra prep hours, the unpaid supervision, the pressure to take part in extra curricular activities, the year to year contracts with no guarantees and not to forget the changing attitudes and behaviour of students towards teachers.
Don’t get me wrong there were elements I enjoyed but over all I knew it wasn’t for me. It didn’t make me happy and it certainly didn’t help my situation. It wasn’t something I wanted in my life long term.
It also became apparent very quickly that all those holidays teachers get aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity.
At the time I had blogging as a hobby. As hard as it was, and still is to, put myself out there, blogging has inspired me and taught me so much already.
I began to write, take pictures, I thought myself how to edit, how to build a website and got to understand the world of social media. I may not master all of it but it gave me a way out.
Was I absolutely terrified? Yes.
I was terrified to leave something I had become so familiar with, even if it was making me miserable. But I knew I couldn’t keep coasting through my life.
In April of last year I put a CV together. Emailed all the brands I admired most and thankfully was successful in securing a part time job doing social media for a brand I used for a few years. I also learned so much more from that brand on how the industry operates.
Now in less than a year, I’ve learned a whole new skill set and have a new role in a brand new company.
I’m still not sure where I’m heading but I know I’m closer than I ever was and I’m the happiest I’ve been in years. That’s not to say that I still don’t have my down days but that’s life.
I think the things that still haunt me the most are the things I lost during those times and the repercussions it had on the lives of the people closest to me. I missed out on and skipped occasions because I just couldn’t face it.
But what did I gain?
A whole new outlook on life. Since leaving teaching I no longer feel trapped and that has extended to every other part of my life. I feel like anything is possible, especially if you wanted it bad enough and put yourself out there. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
You need put your wants and needs ahead of the opinions of others. Nobody else is living your life. Don’t look back in regret because you took the advice of someone else who was afraid to go out of their comfort zone so in turn limited yours.
The certainty that I’m surrounded by the best people and they’re all I need. The people who actually asked if I was ok instead of making up their own scenarios.
There’s nothing in your life that’s not interconnected. Everything has a knock on effect. So surround yourself with the people who bring out the best in you and help keep you positive.
Whatever you’re thinking about doing or changing do it!! Make the decision and I guarantee you, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.
And lastly, everything I’ve learnt over the years have made me the person I am today. No experience is ever wasted.
It’s daunting being so brutally honest but I hope it helps someone and if anyone ever needs to talk my DMs are always open.
Love, Laura x