Saturday, 24 October 2009

Emotionally Honest

I’ve realised that I haven’t written much over the last few weeks. Although this week I can blame last weekend’s cold, which has developed into a delightful chest and sinus infection, I know that there is another reason. It’s one that I have been so busy avoiding that every time I sit down to write one something else, I’m so busy pushing it out of my mind that there’s no energy left to write about everything else.

Simply, I am very unhappy.

There, I said it. Just by saying it out loud makes me feel a tiny bit better, as then it becomes an acknowledged problem to be addressed rather than a dark shadow I’m trying to pretend isn’t there.

The source of the problem? The job that, in the summer, I was looking forward to starting. The proverbial alarm bells started ringing on my first day when I was told variously that ‘my job was simply to survive’, it was ‘the worst job in the school’ and that I was ‘at the bottom of the hierarchy’ and the kids would treat me accordingly.

Over the last two months, these cheery snippets advice seem, if anything, to have been erring on the positive side. I’ve tried telling myself that there’s a recession and I’m lucky to have a job at all, but, unsurprisingly, this has only made me feel more trapped and miserable.

I’ve felt my enthusiasm for working on learning web design, taking photographs, meeting my friends and my voluntary work fade away too. Things that would normally make me feel proud and excited, like being told I’m doing an excellent job with my voluntary work and the photography exhibition that I’ve snagged for the next two weeks and am putting up today, barely lift my mood for a second.

I need my life back.


  1. Really sorry to hear about your situation. Sounds like you need a rapid job change.
    Identifying the source of your unhappiness is half the battle though.

  2. I think that was mean and unfair that your employers told you that especially on your first day. It would of been better to of said nothing and let the children decide how to treat you and to let you find out for yourself.

    I hope you are able to renew your enthususiam for what you want to do, I would look for other workplaces too.

  3. J, I am so sorry to hear that you have such a miserable, hellish job. I can identify with your situation because I had students like that when I went back to teaching after my sons were older, in 1995. I drove to school every day with a knot in my stomach. I was given the worst classes because I was hired just before school started, so all the good classes had been assigned to the other math teachers. I became very depressed. I expended an enormous amount of energy in just trying to keep control in the classroom; I felt like an incompetent teacher. I know how awful and stressful that is for you. I persevered through that year and I had better classes the following years, with a few bad ones here and there. I taught there 8 years, and I was happy to retire. The general public has no idea how stressful it is to try to teach kids who are defiant, rude and unruly.

    Hang in there. I will pray for you for strength and peace.

  4. I'm sorry to hear that you're unhappy with your job, which naturally spills over into everything else. I hope you can find something else soon that, something great that lights up your life.

  5. Sorry to hear this Jane.

    I don't often play amateur psychologist but I'm going to right now... and it's just an idea I'm tossing up into the air... and you may already know about this.

    Sometimes people who have lived in foreign countries become quite unhappy a few months after they return home. It's like a sort of 'reverse homesickness and/or culture shock' and it can be far worse than the actual homesickness experienced when abroad.

    The honeymoon of being back home fades, gritty reality returns and people often see their own culture, country, friends and family a bit or a lot differently... it can be very unnerving for some people... because after all you're back home, you should be happy just like Dorothy was... yet...

    Plus there's the missing of all the positive experiences of the host country and that sense of exploring.

    Before I returned to Canada from England I read the book 'Art of Coming Home' by Craig Storti. Hey, I just googled and some of it is online!

    Anyways... it's just a thought and kudos for the emotional honesty!

  6. Arh! That's a long horrible link!

    Shortened version:

  7. Thanks for your responses.

    Neil - True. I think even just writing this out helped me, and I've decided to talk to my line manager when I get back.

    Jane - To be fair, a lot of the staff at the school have been very supportive and appreciative of my work and told me that it does get better...but yeah, there are better ways to motivate people on their first day!

    Pat - Although I had some tough classes in China (trust me, stereotypes of Chinese student's behaviour are not true!), I also had some really awesome ones who I would look forward to teaching all week.

    On the plus side, I have started to build up a handful of good relationships with students.

    Ms TB - I looked at the link. I'm not really sure how much of it really applies to my situation as I've never felt at home in my hometown, and in any case, I've only lived here full time for one out of the last five years. I do miss some things about China, but I can also remember very clearly the days where being screamed at in the street constantly, stresses with the school and random acts of rudeness would have me crying or furious with frustration!

    I have the next week off (yay for school holidays), and the improvement in my mood is...intense. Hopefully I'm going to use this time to meet up with friends and family and get involved in the projects that I've been feeling too dispiriting and ill to do.

  8. You're doing probably the hardest job there is, so don't be too hard on yourself. The 'lucky to have a job' line only goes so far as a comfort blanket - I know!! Sometimes the only thing to do is to bring the shutters down on the day job and concentrate on the rest of your life. Hard if you need your job to be a source of satisfaction, but after doing what you can eg talking to your line manager, it may be a divide you have to operate for the time being. I wish you well - for those of us who need to find meaning in work it's tough when work doesn't deliver what we need, despite all our efforts.

  9. Linda - the problem with this job really goes way beyond lack of meaning. In fact, sometimes there can be meaning and sometimes there can be quite rewarding aspects, unfortunately that is perhaps 5% as opposed to the majority of time when I get treated with absolute contempt, sometimes even abuse. If I had realistically known about a couple of aspects of the job, I would never have taken it.

  10. Hi J, I've been too absent of late from many blogs, largely because I too am trapped in a job which has alot of downsides, and demands far too much of my time, my life... but fortunately here in France, we get vacation more often than in some places, and I'm on vacation now, and hope to catch up on visiting some blogs, like yours, that I just haven't been able to get to of late...

    So, I am sorry to hear you're having a bad time of it... being treated with contempt is awful... is there no way to give them back their change and let them know they can't treat you like that and get away with it? Hang in there, having a job is important... not having a job comes with a whole set of other sources of stress, and worse, I think, which is why so many folks hang on so long in jobs that are degrading, demeaning, and just downright dreadful...

    So, yeah, hang in there, start searching for something better, while also working on your Teflon coating, so whatever stuff comes at you, just slides right off...

  11. Owen thanks. I'm actually working in a high school - I've had lots of job that have been pressured, stressful and sometimes involved dealing with people who are rude, angry even threatening but I've never experienced working somewhere where a good day is merely having people be rude to you the whole day. I'm on holiday now, unfortunately can't get time off for interviews, which puts me in a bit of a catch-22 situation.