Only yesterday it was reported that the level of unemployment in the UK has continued to grow. This affects disproportionately young people. This is a guest post by Ewan; he wants to be a teacher at a time when funding for education is declining in real terms and teachers are encouraged to take severance. This is how he feels!
I am a 20-something (nearing 30, but shh!) and long-term unemployed. It’s not fun. Not fun at all. When you’ve been unemployed for so long, it really gets to you. Firstly, because the frustration of not being able to progress and get on with your life. And secondly, you begin to learn to accept it in a way. Then you don’t do anything about it, which is what I have done for some time.
Having a career, or even a job, gives us a sense of identity. When we meet new people one of the first things we ask one another is “What do you do?” It makes us who we are, and that question always gets me. It’s like I hear it coming every time I meet someone new, and I dread it in a way. I have a T-shirt that says “To be is to do.” – Socrates; “To do is to be.” – Sartre; “Do Be Do Be Do.” – Sinatra.
I think it’s because I do not ‘do’, I feel as though I have no identity or a sense of ‘being’. Of course there are other aspects that make us what and who we are but ‘work’ and knowing that you are making a contribution to society that enables you to live, cannot be under-valued.
All I want to do is teach at primary school level, helping young children to learn and bring out the sunshine within them. But winding back a few years, I failed my final exams in English Literature because of emotional problems. I couldn’t focus on studying, and so I tripped at the last hurdle. Since then I’ve been trying my hand at becoming a Teaching Assistant. I’ve completed a Teaching Assistant course and I’ve also completed a Mentoring Training course, which includes a certificate from the NHS on Mental Health. I have done work experience in schools and it’s looking like I’ll have to do some more. But will I just continually be volunteering? How long will this last for? I suppose the only thing to do is keep ‘doing’.
I’ve never been a very confident out-going person and I’m very introverted. It’s strange, because I know that I’m great with people. I’m friendly, charming (naturally!), I don’t speak over people and I listen. But ‘meeting a new person’ is always a daunting task for me. The only things I’m not introverted about are social networking sites such as Facebook, probably because it allows me to break down the fear of face-to-face situations.
Then there’s the feeling as though I’m a burden on my parents. I am in fact. There’s no denying that. I don’t want to be but it’s so difficult for someone who is as introverted, low in confidence, and lacking ‘work’ identity as I am to push on. It feels like a daily struggle and for too many days I’ve never found the strength to overcome it.
I don’t blame myself completely. The recession in the UK and the continuously raising unemployment are things I can’t do anything about; these affect all of us. So it would be unfair to say that it’s entirely my own doing. At the same time, that’s not an excuse to just give up. I know that.
What I must do is to start ‘doing’, irrespective of ‘work identity’. If I need to volunteer in schools again, then so be it. I need to pluck up the courage to give my old university a phone call and ask them how (or if) I can finish my degree. These are tasks I need to set myself. I can write and moan about it all day long, but tomorrow is another day.
I think Sartre and Socrates are both right. It goes hand-in-hand. “To be is to do.” – Socrates and “To do is to be.” – Sartre. My life at present is Sinatra’s “Do Be Do Be Do!” And I will change this!