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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Life Changing Decision. So Long As I Don't Wimp Out.

I've not posted on here for a couple of weeks, and it's been even longer on my TV and book blogs. I wish I could say that some big, exciting development in my life has seen me unable to devote the time but in truth the reason behind my absence has been almost the exact opposite.

On Monday the 25th August 2011, I shall have a birthday. It shall be my 32nd. Now, 32 isn't 16, 18, 21 or even 30; it's not a milestone on anyones calender really. Yet for some reason, as the day approaches, I find myself getting restless; taking stock of my life and not liking what I'm seeing.

In 1985, when I was 6 years old, I announced that I was going to be a teacher. Unlike a lot of people, I never grew out of that first statement. My entire childhood was spent in the sure and certain belief that I would, one day, be a teacher. I am not a teacher.

Starting when I was 15 I began to get seriously disillusioned with school. I hadn't become disillusioned with wanting to be a teacher, nor with learning, but rather with the culture of state education, the attitudes of several teachers and the unnecessariness of so much of what we were being told to do. (The fact that we were always told, never asked, was one of the things I was getting increasingly annoyed about.) I persevered though and I got through my GCSE's with half way decent results, although nowhere near what my teachers had predicted. So off to A-Levels we go.

I lasted a year. I had hoped that this would be the point where all my frustrations would disapear; where the education system would start to treat those it was supposed to be educating with a bit of respect and not like second class citizens; where some kind of acknowledgment, slender though it might be, would be forthcoming of the fact that we were there to learn, of our own free will. Not so. By the end of the first 6 months I was tearing my hair out and getting properly stressed. It wasn't the subject matter, which I enjoyed and was eager to learn about, but rather the people (a holdover from the Brancepeth Boys problem) and the methods of teaching. On top of that I was getting zero support from my family, who saw education as a waste of time and couldn't understand why I hadn't walked away at 16.

So I did walk away. At the end of year 12 I left, never to look back. It was a stupid decision, and one I regret, but it wasn't a knee-jerk one. I had tried, really I had, but just the thought of another year of that, with a bunch of stressful exams at the end of it, was enough to have me suicidal (maybe an exaggeration but only a slight one; I once punched a brick wall outside the school out of sheer frustration, that's how bad I was).

So, my long held ambition was scrapped. What to do? Well, I descended into a depressed funk. I'd sit up all night watching rubbish telly and then sleep all day. I could go weeks without seeing daylight. This couldn't go on of course, and in a rare moment of maternal concern (either that or she realised that she wasn't going to be able to claim benefits for me once the new school year started and I wasn't enrolled ) my mother forced me out of my insular pit and into the workplace. Off I toddled to what was then the junior version of the careers service (not sure about now), Connections. Although, and this may be my mind playing tricks on me, I'm pretty sure it was called (shudder) Connexions.

Credit where it's due, they were pretty good with me. Took them a couple of months but they got me an interview at a local builders merchants for an admin apprenticeship. Or at least, they thought they did; when I arrived for the interview it turns out that the admin apprenticeship had been filled a couple of months previously and the position I was up for was a 'warehousing&distribution' apprenticeship. Whatever; I was just saying yes to whatever anyone said to me at that point, since I was fairly well convinced that my life was over.

I got the position, despite my lack of enthusiasm, and started the following week. At the interview they gave me a brief test to ascertain my basic maths and English skills. They told me later that I got the best scores they'd ever had. No wonder I got the job in that case, I despair what other numpty's had been applying; the tests were nothing you'd expect to see any higher than Junior school.

Anyway, I loved the job. It took me a while, but I started to realise that once I got over the thing of assuming I'd be shit at it, I was actually good at it; really good. That's not me bragging, God forbid (general rule : if I'm being self aggrandising I'm joking, self deprecating I'm telling the truth), but I actually seemed to have found something where I didn't have to feel like shit every morning. Another plus point was that the people I worked with had a very rough and ready approach to everything and I pretty much was forced to come out of my shyness shell, by the pure power of their personalities.

The 3rd plus point of course was that the admin trainee, who had got the job I'd thought I was going for, was absolutely the most beautiful creature I'd ever laid eyes on in my life. Lust at first, as time went on I fell massively in love with her; sadly it was completely unrequited and though we remained friends for years (and didn't that eat at my guts) nothing else ever happened between us.

After 12 years, 5 managers and a complete change in ownership, the branch was closed down. Within a week I was back to sleeping all day and watching telly all night. For about a year and a half that was my life until the branch re-opened, back under the original ownership and I managed, through something called an IAP, to get my foot back in the door. 3 Months of working there for nothing (you get your benefits and traveling expenses from the government but the employer doesn't have to pay you anything) allowed me to show that I would make a good fit and when the IAP was up they invited me back full time. I jumped at the chance.

Except, it's not the job it was. Don't get me wrong; it's a job and I'm grateful to have it but I don't have that feeling each day of being raring to go. I get there and my first thought is 'show me the coffee' not 'what's the first job on the agenda'. It's run differently than before, with several departments that were separate originally now being run as one so I'm having to start from scratch learning all the stuff that other departments would have handled before and the office/sales team have managed to shock me by being even more superior with even less cause, than their predecessors. Whereas before, my job was my life, now my job is just my job. I don't like it.

So I've been looking at my life. Last time I was starting out at this place it would last 12 years and when it was over I had zero transferable skills. The thought of being in the same position 12 years from now, rather than filling me with pride as it would have done before (at being good enough to be kept around) just makes me depressed. I wanted so much more out of my life.I have long had the problem of 'if you aren't enjoying something, you shouldn't be doing it'. Dropping out of 6th form was the first but not the only example (I was moved out of warehousing and into sales at one point in my last stint at the branch. It lasted a year, I was reaching the 'punching the walls and crying myself to sleep' stage and threatened to put my notice in if I wasn't put back where I belonged.) and I'm scared that if I allow this attitude to take root I'll end up screwing the pooch, as it were, with this job.

That worry and depression at work has seeped into my life outside work as well. I come home, sit down and all I can think of doing is sleeping. Except I can't sleep, because my subconscious has decided that now is the perfect time to hit me with a bout of crippling insomnia. So I've been surviving on an average of 3hrs a night, with the occasional 24hr crash.

So why haven't I been blogging? With all that extra time on my hands, what's stopping me? Motivation; I haven't got any. I blog about books, but without the inclination to read any... I blog abut TV, but without the inclination to watch... And I blog about my life, which, as anyone who actually reads this thing on a regular basis will know, is hardly conducive to cheering myself up. So I just sit and stare at the laptop.

I've stopped visiting the 2000AD forum for the most part and although I've maintained my presence on twitter my heart isn't really in that as much as it used to be.

I've made a decision though, and it's one I think will help me a great deal, emotionally. I'm going to start looking into night or correspondence classes to, at the very least, get those A levels I walked out on. Maybe I'll go further than that, who knows? I'm not saying I'm going to be teaching your kids anytime soon, but hopefully I'll not be doing what I'm doing now forever and feeling like I wasted
my life.

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