A few days ago, I excitedly posted about the interview I’d got for a job in Manchester. I was all a-flutter and was plotting and planning for my amazing Mancunian life. I googled Manchester acting classes and writing circles and waxing clinics and saunas. I checked out apartments and houses. I booked a flight over and back for the interview.
Nothing was going to stop me. This was Good News.
On the other hand…
A huge part of me does not want this job. I spent four years of my PhD promising myself that I would never be a lecturer. It’s not that I don’t enjoy teaching. I do. But teaching is a relatively minor part of a lecturer’s job. A lecturer teaches somewhere between 2 and 12 hours a week, for about twenty four weeks a year. The vast majority of a lecturer’s time is actually spent doing administration and research. And my impression is that the pressure on the research side of the job is much higher than the pressure on the teaching side of the job. Lecturers are expected to research and to produce and publish written work pretty much all the time.
In other words, being a lecturer is like doing a PhD, again and again for the rest of your life. Except it’s harder and more is expected of you in less time.
I don’t think I’m suited to this. At all. The three biggest crisis points in my life were in the run-up to finishing secondary school (when I literally dropped out of school), when I was finishing my bachelor’s degree (when I ended up in mental hospital) and when I was in third year of my PhD (when I came very, very close to dropping out). I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that to myself again.
And yet here I go, merrily clomping down the road to a mental breakdown. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it won’t damage me. But I doubt it.
After my secondary school breakdown, I bounced back. I loved college. It was great! Then that got serious and I broke down again. It took giving up on law and all my career goals and running away to Poland to recover from that. As for the PhD, after a year of hopping from Slovenia to Italy to Vietnam to Macedonia to Kazakhstan to Longford, I’m still not really over it.
It’s not even study of an area I find interesting. The job is in TESOL, and I’d find teaching that interesting. But the idea of having to conduct and publish research on “listening strategies for Chinese speakers of English” or on “motivation for language learning among beginner teenagers” makes my gut scream. I don’t know if I’m constitutionally made for this job. And I worry that I would get the job and take it and after a year or so, I’d quit, maybe quit again to follow my dreams, or maybe quit because I’ve had another breakdown and I have to start from scratch again, possibly after another spell in hospital.
I know things have to change with my life as it is now. My life as it is now is unsustainable and not working for me. I love the idea of moving to a big city and making lots of money. And I need that. I definitely need that. I need to start making money again. And I need to be around people again and stop being such a hermit. There’s no doubt about it.
I promised myself a year to try out my dreams. I haven’t had the free time I thought I’d have. Online work expands to fill all the available time. And I’m not at all good at scheduling myself and motivating myself.
Yesterday was a really good day for me. I went for a walk before midnight. For the first time since moving here. (Side note: What has happened to me? I got an email from an old friend recently who mentioned all the friends I had when I was an undergraduate. And it’s true. I was on multiple student committees. I ran everything. I knew everyone. I had loads of friends. I would go clubbing many nights a week. I was charismatic and funny and people have introduced themselves to me since I finished there, saying that they were too nervous to do so when we were in college together because I was such a popular figure. Now, I spend all my time alone and I am literally embarrassed to go outside of my own house during daylight hours. I avoid pubs and clubs if I can. I avoid people and all social occasions. It’s all gone very wrong somewhere.)
Anyway, yesterday was a really good day for me. I went for a walk before midnight. I didn’t binge once. I didn’t watch any TV. I switched off the internet and read for hours. I danced around my house and did some cleaning. I did stretches. And I wrote. I sat down with my novel. And I wrote. And what I wrote made me laugh and made me emotional and I think it could genuinely be good.
I had so many plans for this year.
- Write the novel – Getting done, but far far too slowly
- Put together a collection of humorous essays based on Project Connor and look into some form of publication – Haven’t even tried, and this is probably the easiest one to actually do. I remember what it was like before I made the blog difficult to find on Google, when middle-aged English women I’d never met would email me to tell me how much they liked the blog. That was an amazing feeling and I really think something could be made of it.
- Put together my Body Histories project – Tried to get a few volunteers, had my ads taken down, didn’t try again as I was too intimidated by the logistics of the whole thing, though I still really want to do it.
- Start writing about current affairs/politics – The Toilet Blog was the first step of what was to be a multi-faceted approach. I haven’t written a thing for that since November, and there are so many other ideas I had in this vein and I’ve barely tried any.
- Start writing about pop culture – Haven’t even tried and I have two ideas that would be so, so easy to get started on.
- Try to put together a radio documentary and/or podcast based on one or more of the above – Haven’t even tried.
- Become a YouTube sensation. – I am addicted to various vloggers and their careers. I think I could make a good YouTube storytelling channel. But I am absolutely terrified to try it.
- Experiment with my look and seriously try to learn about make-up and dressmaking – very very occasional experiments but nothing real. I basically live in black t-shirts and ill-fitting jeans and despise the mirror.
- Try some form of performing in public – Haven’t even tried.
- Lose weight – LOL
That list makes for the ingredients of a rich and full life. Sure, I can do some of these things at the same time as a real job. But they don’t really fit with being a full-time lecturer. I should really look for a job in a shop or delivering pizzas or in a cinema or a pub or something. A job where my reputation wouldn’t matter. A job where I wouldn’t have to take work home. That would fit much better with these goals.
I’m still going to do this interview. I still love the idea of Manchester and I love the idea of making all that money. And I love the job title because I’m a total snob. But the idea of doing that job worries me. It worries me a lot. Is there any point in doing another Vietnam?
A big part of me doesn’t want to be offered this job.