Wednesday, 12 October 2016
So ... I have some news.
I'm having a career change.
This is something that's been rather a long time coming and is also something I've kept very quiet for a number of reasons. This post has also been brewing for a while and is one of those posts that I've started a few times and not managed to get much further than a bare skeleton of a plan.
And then I was listening to the radio and an old Semisonic song - 'Closing Time' - played.
Whilst not hugely life changing the song featured a single line that struck a chord with me and literally made me stop in my tracks. The line was a quote from Seneca; a Roman Philosopher, and said 'Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end ...' It rang more true with me than anything I had heard in a while and throughout the course of the week I heard the same song on the radio a number of times.
As part of the preparation and study for my intended career change I need to keep a reflective journel. On discovering this I later sat with a friend to have coffee and grumbled that I'm not a hugely reflective learner. Lover of theory, yes. Reflective, no.
So to help me reflect on my learning I bought a book: The Reflective Journal by Barbara Bassot. I sat down and began to read coming to, of course, the first theme - 'Beginnings'. Instantly, the Seneca quote (or Semisonic, depending how cool I'm feeling) sprang to mind. '
'Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end ...'
I felt like I was going to cry.
New Beginnings are hard for me. I don't deal with change or upheaval especially well. My absolute need for control was challenged five years ago when my daughter was stillborn. The rug was pulled out from under my feet and I had no control of the situation whatsoever. This continued throughout both unsuccessful fertility treatment and successful fertility treatment followed by miscarriages. A total lack of control. Riding the storm with no sense of direction. The path I had intended for my life had been completely demolished and my plans were razed to the ground. I was totally directionless. And through this I learnt (a little bit) very slowly that I could not have total control over my life. This is something I am still learning;
I am not the driver.
The Barbara Bassot book references William Bridges' Transition Model which highlights three stages of transition that people go through when they experience change. These are:
Ending, Losing, and Letting Go
The Neutral Zone
The New Beginning
This made so much sense to me and I began to unpack it.
16 years ago I moved to Liverpool to train as a teacher. I couldn't imagine doing anything else and this sense of it being what I should be doing was reaffirmed by everyone around me. I was meant to be a teacher. I was made for it; born to teach. Gradually this affirmation caused it to be the only thing I could do; what else would I possibly do? There was nothing else I could do or wanted to do. Part way through University a wonderful friend left her teaching degree. She did not want to be a teacher and is now an amazing social worker. It was something I could never imagine doing and the very thought of it terrified me.
Through a maze of occurances I left classroom teaching and worked towards setting up my own nursery. They were baby steps but I was getting there slowly. It was, in my mind, a natural progression and I carried on affirming my choice - there's nothing else I could, or would want, to do.
And then our daughter died and all of my plans and priorities changed. I had to close down the business I had built up and had no capacity for teaching or childcare of any sort other than caring for my son, Samuel, who was 2 1/2 at the time.
A year and a half later we began our foster care journey which developed into an adoption journey (you can read about here and here) and I regained some purpose in my life. My life was also actually so full of appointments for our foster daughter that returning to work - or even thinking of returning to work wasn't a possibility. I always had lodged in the back of my mind that if all else failed I could always return to working in the childcare sector; could always use it as a fall back. It was my security blanket and as it was something I was good at I felt it was a good security blanket.
Last year I picked up my career and returned to working in the childcare sector through liaising with a charity to set up a nursery. At the tail end of last year this is what I wrote:
I blogged a few months ago about returning to work and what a big step it had been for me. I helped to set up a nursery which is something I've always wanted to do. However, I have recently had to take a step back from my role as it wasn't working for my family. Everyone was getting half measures. My daughter took a turn for the worse and struggled to settle into pre school. Her sleep disorder worsened. My son realised that my attention was further split and, as he's only 6, began to act up too. He has an intermittent stammer which worsened dramatically and his behaviour massively deteriorated. Our marriage received whatever scraps were left. I felt relief at making the very difficult decision to step down until I saw on Facebook the number of my friends who manage to juggle children, marriage, life and amazing jobs and still have time to paint their nails! And my relief and joy was stolen and I became a failure....
And that was my ending ... and my losing. I was suddenly lost. I had lost everything that was familiar to me. I had grabbed my security blanket and returned to what I was good at and it hadn't come to fruition in the way that I had hoped it would. The start of this year began with me feeling incredibly low and things like blogging have definitely taken a back seat because of this.
And so I entered the Neutral stage; LIMBO.
As a bereaved parent, and for issues prior to that, I have had years of ongoing Psychotherapy. I became fascinated by the Transactional Analysis methods used in my therapy and following a lot of thought I decided to investigate whether this was something I could find out more about. At the start of this year I applied to study for a Foundation Certificate in Transactional Analysis - with view to training and practising a Psychotherapist - and was accepted! Although hugely excited I told very few people about this. I was waiting for the 'how will you cope?', 'will you manage?', 'how will you juggle everything?', 'have you not already done a four year degree?', 'it's such a change from teaching' comments to come. They didn't; except from myself.
I still had the niggling suspicion that I had failed in someway - that a career change was to admit defeat and not to say 'I'm ready for a change; I'm ready to move on'. I struggled to see that the experiences I'd had in the past, both personal and professional, had contributed to who I am and prepared me for the choices I will make in the future. And as I reflected on this, the words that came to mind included: fear, nerves, uncertainty, trepidation, trapped, purpose, lack of fulfilment ...
But slowly the feelings of failure began to diminish and were replaced by feelings of excitement - of anticipation and I began to let go. I have not failed - I have simply developed and am ready to use my experiences for good. Although I am getting there I still been to remind myself of this daily. This needs to become my new affirmation.
... and as this season; as my last beginning draws to an end, I now await my new beginning.
Watch this space.
Barbara Bassot - The Reflective Journal (2016 ed)
William Bridges - Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes (2004 ed)