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A Long Overdue Update

Ah, it's really been too long! Somehow, I had tried really hard to avoid coming here . . I don't know if it was an attempt to run away from myself or to run away from others. Or maybe it was simply an attempt to avoid telling others about what a clusterfuck my life has become. See, there was a time when, if my life had become really confusing and upsetting, I would want to write all about it. As a sort of catharsis, of sorts. But nowadays I just try to forget all about it. I run away. I avoid telling everyone, and if I must tell someone, I cut it down into little pieces and try to act like it's okay. Even though there's this growing sense of worry that slowly boils up over time, a creeping sense of dread, a whispering voice that repeats

What are you going to do about your life now?

And I just have no idea.

I was really never a person who was aimless. All throughout my life, while other people would always say "I have no idea what I'm going to do  when I grow up", I was the person who always knew. It changed multiple times throughout my school career, sure, but I always knew what I was doing. I got A's, I did what I was supposed to do, I had my shit together.

In this society, you're apparently a piece of shit to everybody if you don't go to college. So I went to college. It was like I had no other choice-- I was on a track. Go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a job.

I don't even remember at what point I decided I wanted to become a teacher. I think I just mindlessly decided it, and then thought I would like it. Before that, I had wanted to be an interpreter, and I'm not sure now why I decided to switch over (of course, I learned later that being an interpreter or translator would have been a terrible job for me, so I'm glad I didn't proceed in it). But I knew you had to go to college to become a teacher, and in my mind I thought going to college was necessary, so I chose something to aim for. At that time I had a German teacher I really admired, so I thought I'd become just like her. Easy, right? At this point I always managed to succeed at everything I tried academically, so I thought I'd just choose whatever career I was mildly interested in. Because you know, we're all expected to make good choices when we're teenagers, right?

First year of college was splendid. Hung out, goofed around, met awesome new peeps like Carpio, even managed to have tons of fun with Melies the first four months (before she got a boyfriend and turned her brain off). I look back at that year and think that none of it was really a waste.

Second year begins. I start classes to become a teacher. Everything's pretty much a breeze. I don't think too much about what I'm doing-- I just know that I'm good at it, so I keep going.

Third year. I start my observation practicums-- some of them at my old high school with aforementioned admired teacher, and another one at an urban high school. There's some sort of nagging, prickly doubt in my brain-- do I really want to do this?-- and I shove it down, deep down. It's too late to turn back, and I've got no other idea of what I could be doing instead-- besides, it's probably just nervousness. Meanwhile, one of my friends quits the Education major-- "I don't want to teach people who don't want to learn"-- and the doubt threatens to surface again.

Fourth year. I miss my deadline for Practicum, not to mention there were still more classes I needed since I was double-majoring, so I end up delaying my graduation one semester.  This doesn't bother me much, as many other students were forced to do that as well. I'm starting to realize my waning interest in German, but I bury it again, as I'm used to doing at this point. I look at my American-born foreign language professors, and wonder why they all prefer the language they're teaching over the others. Ever since middle school, I had always jumped from one foreign language to the other-- Japanese, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Korean, Latin-- I couldn't comprehend how one could become so obsessed over just one of them. I was starting to realize I had only chosen German because I had had a head start on it in high school and I was good at it-- even then, I was still juggling it among other languages that I deemed just as important. I start to dread my German classes.

Second semester of fourth year. I start my Practicum. Begin Hell.

Before I started Practicum, I had heard horror stories about it being difficult. What's worse, is that I was being placed in a middle school. I thought for sure, these kids are going to eat me alive. My worst fear was dealing with the students-- they would make or break me. They had complete control over whether or not I succeeded one of the most important trials of my life-- I needed their cooperation to survive.

I never thought that my biggest obstacle would be the adults.

Upon first meeting, my university supervisor was nothing but kind. She was professional, understanding, and I was able to hold a German conversation with her without shitting myself-- barely, anyway. She of course, asked me if I'd been to Germany, and upon telling her no, that I didn't have enough money, she then advised me of financial help and programs I could use. This was all normal-- being a German teacher, I expected to get the whole "you need to go to Germany" talk. Of course I planned to go someday-- it's just I definitely don't have the funds, even if I were to apply to every possible financial program-- they'd pretty much have to cover the entire cost. Despite the embarrassment and shame my financial situation caused me, my university supervisor still seemed relatively kind and I hoped I could impress her.

The same could be said about my cooperating teacher. He was super nice, professional, had extreme enthusiasm for what he taught, and never scolded or yelled at the kids-- he always used problem-solving discipline, which is surprisingly a current method for what I expected upon entering the education field. There was literally nothing on the surface that I could possibly say was wrong with him-- yet somehow, there was something about him that I didn't like. This bothered me-- I thought to myself why don't I like him? There's nothing wrong with this dude, yet why do I dread meeting him every day?

It was only until weeks after I finished my Practicum that I realized what it was-- he was just so, utterly, disgustingly white.

And yes, I am aware that I too, am white. But there's white, and then there's the stereotypical male, upper class white.

The kind of person that doesn't understand why I can't afford to stay in Germany for years. The kind of person that laughs when he describes why the physically disabled student has to leave class early-- "because someone might walk into his crutches and he'd fall down, haha"-- the kind of person who whines about his son's college choice after he paid for years of private school, and the kind of person who gives an embarrassed half smile when he informs students that he had to resort to working at a McDonald's when he lived in Germany-- as if it were the equivalent of living his "wild days" and it was a dark time of his life. Despite the fact that the McDonald's looked like it might have been built into a goddamn castle.

In other words, someone who has been given all of the privileges in the world and isn't even aware of it.

It's hard to be mad at these people because you can't help but think it's not their fault. At the same time, it still doesn't encourage me to ever get in contact with him again.

Still, I could have dealt with four more of him if it meant I wouldn't ever have had to talk to my university supervisor. When it comes to privileges, she was my cooperating teacher's female equivalent, with an added boost of snootiness. I came to learn quickly that the kindness she displayed during our first encounter was a clever disguise for a soul-sucking monster buried beneath, and yet I still couldn't tell if she was actually aware of what she was doing or saying.

I only had to see her five times, but after the first two times I felt like I'd rather kill myself than see her for a minute more.

My cooperating teacher had his turn telling me about going to Germany, and while this was kinda annoying, I could understand that he had to have his own go at it and I appreciated the fact that he was trying to help me, even though me saying "I can't afford it" didn't really seem to get through to him-- perhaps it was never a part of his vocabulary. But my university supervisor? She seemed to have made it her mission to tell me to go to Germany every time we met. As if telling me enough times would suddenly make me win the lottery, drop everything, and take a plane to Germany to live for a few years, despite the fact that I still had a Practicum and schooling I needed to finish.

It was getting to the point where I just gave up and nodded my head and smiled-- "oh, I can get financial help to grant me $500? Oh that will totally help me, despite the fact that it takes a lot more money to go there and live there, and I don't have a cent!"-- and she had to make sure to stress the fact that I couldn't go just as a tourist, no, I had to live there. "You'll never know how the German people think until you've lived there!" Great, then buy me a plane ticket and an apartment, will you?

Then she had the awful habit of telling me that she was going to come see me teach the night before the day she planned to come. This forced my cooperating teacher to tell me the subject within short notice, which meant that I had to create and write up a lesson plan to teach for the next day within a few hours at most. Beginning teachers need a lot more time to plan, find/make materials, and practice-- you can't just jump into it and expect to do well. It all takes planning. Not to mention that it's within the Practicum rules that you have to inform the student at least one week ahead of time when the university supervisor is planning to come. So she was essentially breaking the rules, yet I felt like there was nothing I could really do about it-- telling on her would only create tension between us, and at that point I had to see her at least three more times. Dealing with her as she was was bad enough, but dealing with a pissed off version of herself? Please shoot me.

But there was one night in particular that I felt like I needed to stand up for myself-- this lesson required me to make and print materials, and she only e-mailed me a few hours before bedtime. Sure, I could have winged it-- it would be sub-par and humiliating, but it'd be done. But I put myself in the place of the students-- the souls who were actually nice to me throughout all of this-- and wondered what it'd be like to deal with a new, nervous, tired, and unprepared teacher and expect to learn German. It'd be nice to get it over with for my own benefit, but would it really be fair to them? They never chose to be stuck with me.

My heart felt like it was trying to crawl out of my chest but I sucked it up and called her, wondering if explaining my thoughts would be enough to get her to reschedule. After all, she had asked me if this day was okay, as in "Would it be okay if . .?" so I had the right to refuse, didn't I? I learned later that this was phrased more for the cooperating teacher's benefit, who had been cc'd aforementioned e-mail. I apparently, didn't have any choice in the matter.

"Well, that's life."

The words cut through me like a knife. "That's life. You're going to have to plan things at the last minute when you become a teacher."

In the end, she rescheduled, but first she accomplished hurting me like no other human being has managed to hurt me before. I always expect rejection, but not one that kicks you down a peg. Even more, she didn't reject me, which somehow made it even worse, as if to say "I'll reschedule for you, but I hope you know you're the weak one for asking."

"That's life." As if to say I'm a spoiled brat who always gets her way. As if to say I've never worked hard for anything. I'm not going to say I'm not spoiled (I live in America, for one thing) but I at least know enough about life to know when I can't afford to travel abroad, a concept she never seemed to understand.

I also know enough about teaching to know that you're a bad one if you're planning your lessons the night before like that. Then again, she was planning a lesson for the next day when I called her, so I guess that's how she does her job. I feel sorry for her students.

Somehow, I managed to survive my Practicum until the end, and I only had to meet both my cooperating teacher and university supervisor one more time to learn my grade, and whether or not I passed. I was just overjoyed that this would be the last time I saw them-- I could deal with any of their shenanigans at this point.

It was still a struggle. My university supervisor seemed to be trying her best to annoy me as much as possible until the end-- asking me personal questions like "What is your debt going to be like when you're out of school?" and upon telling her, bluntly responding with "Oh you're not going to be able to pay that off with the salary you'll be getting." Trying to deal with the situation as best as possible, I said "At least I won't have any children to pay for!" Then she said the dreaded "How do you know?"

Oh, here we go.

I simply said "I just know.", praying the conversation would end. She feigned concern, then said "Oh, maybe it's a personal issue." and I swear I felt like she eyed my uterus with pity.

As if it was fucking impossible for her to comprehend that I've decided I don't want children. As if there must be something wrong with me to where I can't have them, or else surely I would want them, because I'm a woman, you know. We're fucking baby machines, we're born wanting to pump them out like no tomorrow, that's our only purpose right?

There might have been a "You might change your mind" stuck in that conversation somewhere, I don't even remember, I've tried so hard to block the whole awful conversation out of my head, not to mention I've been told that so many times that it goes through one ear and out the other.

She also informed me that I don't "focus on German enough" to be a good German teacher. In other words, me studying all these other different languages is hindering me, and German needs to be the only one. I'm sorry, but I can't do that. Call me scatterbrained, but my thirst for knowledge can't really be narrowed down to one thing.

The birdbrain finally told me I passed my Practicum, with just a few minor issues (I'm not loud enough for one thing, I can handle that. Although she told me I had bad time management skills, even though I managed time like a fucking boss in that last lesson). She made sure to tell me that she was going to write that I hadn't been to Germany in the files. Oh boy, go the fuck ahead. I'm soooo scared, here, lemme grab a plane ticket and go live there right now.

All in all I survived the experience, all the while trying to convince myself that I want to be a teacher. Telling myself that I was going to enjoy being a teacher, that I was going to be a good teacher.

When you're trying to convince yourself that much, you know there's a problem.

See, my university supervisor was terrible, but she taught me something valuable. She taught me that I didn't want to become a teacher. She taught me that I don't actually really care that much about German, or Germany for that matter. She taught me that I wasted my time.

You might be thinking "Don't let them ruin your dream!" But see, I chose my dream for the wrong reasons. When you're lost, people will try to tell you "Just choose something you're good at and go with it." They neglect to mention that what you're good at is not necessarily something you might want to do-- nor is it something that can be feasible. They tell you "You can do anything", but that's not actually true.

When it's time for you to choose a goal, whether you like it or not, you have to consider the job market. You have to consider if you're actually going to have any chance at getting the job within your limitations and living style. German teaching jobs in general are very few-- and even if an opening appears, there may be up to 16 other applicants. Of those applicants? They're going to want the people who are either native speakers, or have lived there for years. To live there for years, you need money to travel there, money to live there. You would have to be financially stable.

Already, opportunities are looking bad for me getting that spot. But then I have to consider this: Is it something I really enjoy? Is Germany something I'm really enthusiastic about? Am I really willing to spend hours planning, preparing, finding materials at home, hours that I'm not getting paid for, all for a low salary?

The answer is, that the thought of teaching German is not worth the amount of stress, money, and time I would have to spend to get the job. I'm basically fighting my hardest to not only get a job that I won't really enjoy, but one that is rare to get. In the end, I would have just been fine getting a job as someone who cleans, or someone who works with animals. Hell, ever since I was a kid I wanted to work around animals, and I could just work at the humane society or the zoo to do that-- that doesn't even require a college degree!

The best advice I can give everyone: If you can find a job that you would enjoy, that has decent job openings, then go for it. Otherwise, just choose something that you can deal with. You don't have to love it. Even just as long as it doesn't make you want to kill yourself, if you can get the job, get it. It doesn't matter whether or not it requires college. We could say "You can do anything" back when the economy was better-- we don't have the luxury to do that now, yet we keep shoving it down kids' throats as if it's still applicable.

Life is not all about what career you can get, even though society wants to make you think that way. All through our life, we're constantly asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" We're expected to respond with "doctor" or "florist" or "veterinarian". Nobody ever says "I want to be a good mother" or "I want to be someone who can be trusted." Our worth is judged by what career we get, and not the quality of our personalities. Our whole life revolves around careers, being asked "What do you do?" when meeting someone. We are shamed, looked down upon, if we work as a janitor, in a restaurant, god forbid a fast food place.

Don't let anybody look down on you for where you work. You are still living your life, trying your best. Don't let anyone tell you that you're worthless because you don't have a "real" job or you didn't go to college. Fuck 'em. If your life goal is to simply be a good person, then you can pretty much work anywhere (besides crime =P) and still complete your goal. Even if you don't have any goal at all, you're still living, and as long as you're not causing harm, then as far as I'm concerned, you have the right to live as you please.

I guess in the end, even though I feel like this whole experience was a gigantic waste, it at least changed my entire point of view on life. I would be lying if I said I don't feel like dropping out now. Now that I don't want to teach anymore, I don't have any particular goal, career-wise. It's just that I've already come so far, and dropping out would feel like "giving up" so to speak, even though there's nothing really to "give up" anymore. I don't even know what degree I would get, and starting over to get another degree would take more time and money. All I really want to do is just get a job I'm moderately satisfied with and . . live.

Also, dropping out . . I feel like people would judge me for it. Even though I give fuck all what other people think. But there is at least one person I know who would judge the everliving shit out of me for doing it-- and ironically, it's not my parents, but a friend. And really, if people are going to be like that, I don't need them in my life anyway.

So right now, after coming to this decision, I've been running away from my problems. I'm signed up for classes for next semester, according to the route of getting my German major, which I don't even want anymore. It makes me absolutely sick to even think about continuing German-- I'm sad to say this experience and the people involved has almost made me hate the language. Not to mention getting it would involve teaching at this German Saturday school-- more of the same shit that made me decide I don't want to teach in the first place? Hell no. I have absolutely no idea what to do-- I have to decide between dropping out, or calling someone at the school and just ask them if there's anything I can do to graduate with any sort of shitty degree this semester, just to say I finished. I'm afraid taking any further semesters isn't going to be worth the cost. Perhaps I could do two more, but that's it-- I'm already thousands in debt.

But yes, that's been the problem of my life for the past few months. To distract myself I've been writing a lot-- I now have almost 30 chapters of a story that I'm writing purely for fun and stress relief. It most likely makes me feel like I have some sense of accomplishment in a period where I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything. I'm not really used to failing, and I've had to endure a lot of it recently, including failing the Praxis miserably.

Other than that, I of course had a fun trip to Sea World and Busch Gardens with Steve, and I've been hanging out with friends a lot. Adding video games into the mix, I've had a lot to distract myself from my problems. But I'll have to face them soon . . Wish me luck!


[Insert Clever Title Here]

Aaaah, it's been a long time! I'm sure my writing's gotten rusty . .

I actually had all of this done a few days ago, but when I tried to post it, Livejournal was "busy". Suuuuuuuure  . .

WAO!Collapse )




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