When I grow up, I want to be …

Saturday 21 May 2022

This weekend, I am prepping for a brace of interviews in the coming week. I am certainly in need of a change and new challenge but, as the sun sets on a Saturday of cramming for appointment number 1, I stop in my tracks trying to remember what I actually did plan to do with my life when I originally set out on the treadmill of working life, many, many years ago …

Educational researcher; that was my goal. In my final year at University I was blown away by a female lecturer and her presentation on ‘gender imbalance in education’ and the work done to explore the root causes of this. Looking back, it was my lightbulb moment. It lit up my brain and woke up my soul. It felt like ‘my path’, so off I went…

Five years of classroom teaching, then a Masters and a move into HE. I was on track, I loved my working environment, I loved life, my colleagues were smart, sharp and stretching, and then…boom I met my husband to be. In the battle of the head and the heart… I followed my heart. For his job, we moved to the Southwest and suddenly my job was back in the high school classroom.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good experience. Rapid promotion, heralded as a ‘rolls-royce teacher’ by Ofsted, successful exam results, but just not my dream. So I re-directed to get back into a more research-based educational role. My boss was terrific and let me work in HE one day out of 5, as a visiting lecturer at the local University, and then out of the blue came a secondment to the LA as a consultant and once again, I felt I’d come home. Non-stop, demanding and innovative. The job made my brain hurt and my heart sing. I was in my element and then… boom, my husband left us. Shellshocked and reeling, in what I now see as a ‘sliding doors’ moment, I hung up my consultant’s coat, moved back to the Northwest and, to pay the bills, back into the high school classroom.

Undoubtedly it was the sensible choice and a job that has clearly suited my children. Steady work, decent salary and school holidays. I’ve also met many wonderful colleagues and young people. I’ve worked hard. I’ve done a good job and seen lots of success. But I cannot ignore the fact that, after nearly 10 years in the same location, the role has run its course and it is time for something new.

But money; now there is a niggling worry for the financial security of my current job has been fantastic for the teens. So much so, that a little voice keeps asking, ‘can you afford to make a change?‘ Well, here’s where I’ve got to with answering that one. I’ve spent two decades making working choices to suit husbands to be, then husbands who chose to be no more, to fit around children and meet the cost university fees, so haven’t I’ve earned the right to have one final stretch trying to work, just to suit me? Can I afford to? A large part of my head tell me that I probably cannot afford not to!

So let’s see how this week goes. I don’t think that either of my interviews would constitute a ‘dream job’, (I may have strayed too far from that path every to get back), but they will present a change and a refreshing shake out of my comfort zone, which is a start. After all, I’m sure I’m not the only mum whose career path has not followed a blue print and for whom life got messy with love, loss and let downs. And perhaps that’s why if you asked me ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, an honest reply now would be that ‘I’m still trying to figure that one out!’ …

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