It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the band Shinedown. The title of this song has always struck a chord with me (no pun intended) as there is so much truth that lies within it.
I hate goodbyes. I cannot deal with them – I would much rather quietly slip away unnoticed that have to go through a goodbye because I dislike them so much. However, this song gives me hope. It is very easy to dwell on the fact that a goodbye is the end of something, yet this song highlights that there can be greater things beyond which it is very easy to forget at times.
I am finding this to be particularly true at the moment. For the past 13 years I have been a school teacher – I entered the profession bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on and change the world. However, one of the first things that you quickly discover when working is education is that nothing stays the same, change is constant and often made just for the sake of it.
This country has seen yet more change over the last couple of years with the introduction of the Academy system and more and more pressure is piled upon us to hit targets – the pastoral aspect of the role is forced out due to high demands on time-tabling. If your class has a success rate of 99% you will not be congratulated on a fantastic achievement, you will be held accountable for the 1% that failed. In the teaching profession you are NEVER good enough and your work is NEVER done.
This is tough at the best of times; couple it with bipolar disorder and you’ve got a shit storm just waiting to happen. Absence related to mental health in the teaching profession is about as welcome as a fart in an elevator. If you cannot keep a smile plastered on your face when you’re being told you’re not good enough and God forbid if an episode of depression or anxiety swallows you up, it equates to professional and social suicide (at least in term of colleagues).
I can take no more. I have worked at numerous schools during my career. The kids have loved me and I have worked damn hard to help them achieve. I am proud of how far they have come. The kids are great, however, my colleagues have made my life hell. Everything is fine until bipolar rears its ugly head. From that point onwards you are the target of gossip, exclusion and emotional bullying. I thought perhaps I was just unlucky with my experiences but history can only repeat itself so many times before you realise that this is a cycle that will never end. And so it was time to break the cycle.
I have left the teaching profession. After 13 years as a professional and a whole shitload of student loan debt which I am still paying off, I have decided that enough is enough. It is simply not possible for me to maintain my career on a full-time basis. My condition is not going anywhere and it’s time for me to get real.
And so I say goodbye to my professional status and career. On the surface this sounds like one helluva goodbye and I guess it is but this decision has led me down a new path, one which I will talk about another time. But I can tell you this, without that goodbye I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I am happier than I have been in a long time. So it’s time to embrace the second chance…