These last few months my posts were either rather dark or otherwise veiled hints pointing towards my general unhappiness with just about anything. The second half of 2017 wasn't at all a good year for me and after a massive crash and burn last October, I'm now thankfully much happier with just about everything.
For the last four and a half years I worked in an English training school and despite trying to leave once, two years ago, I allowed myself to be talked into staying. This time, however, I resolutely stood my ground and walked out the door into in pursuit of a brighter and better future.
Working in a training school in China can be all kinds of wonderful, but it can also be all kinds of awful. You usually work afternoons and evenings as well as weekends and while you get two days off a week, these are almost never consecutive. Asking for time off can be a pain and you're forever tired, never quite relaxed enough to pursue all the things you want to do. You get used to it, but it most definitely isn't perfect. You do get to meet all kinds of amazing people, your students are lovely and helpful and I've been lucky enough to make friends for life. Still, there's little room to progress, promotions are practically unheard of and some of the Chinese staff can be notoriously difficult to deal with, there's practically no inter-departmental communication and/or teamwork and if you don't speak Chinese it can be extremely difficult to stay in the loop of things. Even if you do speak Chinese you tend to be the last person to get the news since most things are considered 'not important for foreigners'. One aspect of training centres in China I've always found difficult to stomach, and so have many other teachers as well, is the fact that students are always treated as customers, not like students. That means they get the white-glove-treatment and usually anything and everything is the ESL teachers fault. Now, not all training centres are the same, but overall it does boil down to that. As a teacher, I cannot condone or support this style of education. I firmly believe that, even if you voluntarily choose to improve your English, you should listen to the teacher, accept advice and make changes to your daily schedules to arrange ample time for study and revision as well as some homework. If students aren't willing to make such concessions, spending a large sum of money at a training centre won't have much of an impact with regards to their English abilities.
Working in such a fast paced environment can be exciting but overtime it also drains you. Sometimes to the point that, despite being in love with your chosen profession and the subject you teach, you find yourself too tired really care, too tired to go above and beyond. Then again, sometimes you do it anyway, you give everything and more, yet there's no reward and pretty much everything is taken for granted. Over time that kind of feeling physically drains you and despite loving your job you end up resenting it too. Going to work ends up feeling like a chore, not something you truly enjoy doing.
Sometimes, no matter how hard the decision is, you just have to draw a line and do what you know and believe to be right for you. Getting rid of the toxins in my life was a big part of that decision and I've no regrets. I now work at an amazing primary school, I'm surrounded by brilliant educators and a truly wonderful bunch of co-workers. [Not having to deal with all the sales crap that comes with training centres is truly refreshing.] On top of that I'm around kids all day and there's nothing more gratifying than being around a bunch of adorable six- and seven-year-old kids with an inquisitive mind and a cheeky nature. Just the thought of my darlings makes me smile, I actually look forward to going to work and get excited about my angels. I get as many hugs and kisses as I want and my kids practically fight over who gets to help me carry my stuff back to the office. Apparently helping the teacher carry a pen is a great pleasure. I'm more than happy to let them feel important and give out stickers as a token of my appreciation.
Since work is something we all have to do and can't avoid if we want to live, making your job enjoyable is very important. While still at the training centre, I would keep my desk neat and tidy and decorate it with postcards and flowers. I even had fish (still have them, but they're now at home) and my beloved Starbucks Gemini cup. My desk become my sanctuary, my oasis of peace, and it kept my sane throughout the long working hours well into the night. But it wasn't a permanent solution for a situation I wasn't happy with and since I am extremely allergic to stress, it's not something I can handle well, I decided to remove myself from a situation I was no longer content with.
My friends noticed a big change in me almost immediately and I noticed it myself as well. Lesson learnt. Get rid of the toxins in your life; if it makes you unhappy, unwell or depressed it's probably not supposed to be there. So either get rid of the problem or remove yourself from the situation. I tried to rid myself of the problem for the longest time, but it didn't work, so I walked away.
I'm proud to say that I put myself first, I did what I had to do for the sake of my sanity and I'm most definitely going to keep detoxing my life. Now, walking away can be the easy way out, but sometimes it's the most difficult decision to make. Especially if you care for somebody. In that case, walking away is easier said than done. Still, I did that also. I was happy until I wasn't and since talking about our problems didn't work and wasn't a solution I removed myself from the situation. Also did that with a few so-called friends and adjusted my diet yet again. Instead of losing the pounds I've been putting them on and it's been making me feel rather depressed. I am however determined to get rid of those extra pounds and I'm going to work hard on achieving that goal.
All in all, I feel much better about my life, and compared to only a few months ago I'm definitely in a better place now. I'm surrounded by people who actually care about me, which feels great. I have amazing friends, a great job and a bunch of sweet, sweet kids I get to educate every day. I'm working hard on trying to make it fun for them and for the most part it's working, which feels amazing.