I need someone to talk to.
However, I don’t know quite what I want to say or exactly what the questions are so I can’t decide where to go for support.
This marks a period of great frustrations for me. Questions. Uncertainties and fears. Moments of hope, excitement and dreaming. The first big step towards my future starts in a little over a month. But… what if….?
What if this is too much for me? What if it’s too difficult? What if we run out of money? What if I hate it? What if it doesn’t work out the way I’m hoping? What about my morals and values?
Who can I speak to? Who will listen and hear me out? Who can spot what I’m really asking between the words I say? Who can pinpoint what I need to feel more at ease?
Back track a moment to hear where this is coming from. I decided that I need to take decisive action. My current job is pleasant enough and has many useful perks, but it doesn’t offer any future for progression. Unless, that is, I wanted to train to be a teacher. Which I don’t. I know that is not a career for me.
I considered various avenues for what I would do for work instead. I answered all the quizzes on the National Careers Service website (which makes job suggestions that should be a good fit for skills and interests), I looked at job adverts in the field I thought I wanted to pursue and attempted to think a lot. It seemed that whatever was next for me would require training (even teaching – if I allowed the dangling carrots of a £30k bursary to sway my judgement). Teachers need a PGCE. Scientists need doctorates and years of experience. Even to make progress in my former type of employment, the administrative profession, would require training.
More education then. Can’t get away from that. Fine.
So, I applied for and was accepted on a Master’s degree. The university gave me an offer to study with them! I was surprised and grateful. And this is where the doubts and worries and questions began in earnest. In September I begin study for MSc Computing Science with a view to working in Bioinformatics.
Looking at the job adverts for Bioinformatics employment, I began to think about who I might end up working for and whether my principles would mind. It also began to worry me that the human race may do something that will seriously change our day-to-day lives, in the reasonably near future, rendering a newly acquired skill totally irrelevant. The fears also got a little morbid. In my opinion, I have no more than another 30 years of life left. I want it to mean something. I want to make a difference. I want to use my skills and energy to provide something of benefit to society as a whole (oh the cliché). But I also need the new career move to pay substantially better than the existing role, whilst not devaluing things that matter to me.
To demonstrate things that matter: I do not buy Nestlé products for their attitude towards California water supplies (and just yesterday, a similar stance regarding a spring in the UK). I boycott products from Israel because I want to see recognition of the Palestinian state and peace in the region. I don’t shop at Next and a number of other retailers because they don’t pay their full share of corporation tax. My heart is drawn to issues like mental ill-health, homelessness, slavery, and domestic abuse where I add a timid comment here and there, signing petitions when it seems meaningful but generally just noticing and absorbing the anguish.
I don’t want to climb the salary scale points because I’m helping to furnish the pockets of heartless corporations who only care about their profit margins. But the hope of having a little more money, for the children to be a little more comfortable is extremely enticing. And I know, at the same time, that many people are focussed on simply getting the next meal on the table and the things I want to be able to give my own children are things they want to give theirs. In that sense, although life has never been easy, neither has it been so terrible that we have had to spend the winter in a tent inside our home.
Then I feel guilty that my wishes are things like them being able to choose a phone instead of waiting for grandparent hand-me-downs, to take them on family holidays (have managed one, last year), to have enough clothes for the week at school, to consider fresh fruit and veg a requirement rather than a luxury. I’d also like things for myself. I’d prefer a different hairstyle, but I don’t get it done because I would need to go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks or so compared to once a year at the moment. I’d like to enjoy an occasional meal out without worrying about how much struggle the cost will cause for the next week. I’d like to only work one job so that I can spend time with the children, like a family should.
So there’s some real wrenching going on there. Before even getting to the hurdles of the next 2 years studying part-time for the Master’s degree and choosing the options within that which will most suit my needs. I am hoping for a reasonable and increasing salary without disproportionate moral and value costs.
This means I don’t know if this is the right course to study or where I should steer afterwards and whether I can make a difference, even a small one. If you think you can help with any of this in any way, I would love to hear from you.
I want to be remembered in some way, without false niceties that I think people would be forced to make pretences about if my funeral were held tomorrow.