So, today I graduated with a Masters degree (with distinction) in Culture Diaspora Ethnicity from Birkbeck, University of London. And since graduating from LSE, I’ve learnt so much.
After graduating from LSE in 2014, I took a “gap year”, working 7 days a week in order to save money to fund my future Masters degree (the postgraduate loan did not exist until my second year of postgraduate studies).
Monday to Friday, I worked as a PR Trainee/intern in the city, and on the weekends I worked in Primark – 1 til 10:30pm on Saturday and 12 til 6:30pm on Sunday. Now, please believe I was so tired during this period and the dust in Primark gave me some SPOTS lol! But I hustled, got some work experience and saved a good amount of money. I also met two really good friends during this time, and my partner. However, looking back, I worked a lot. Even prior to graduating, from sixth form up until today, I WORK! And to an extent, it’s good as I have a lot of experience and have been able to save but I feel since graduation in 2014, LIFE has actually flashed by. So I would encourage those ambitious, hustlers like myself to take time! Grades and a career are great but make sure you’re happy too. And I wasn’t happy in PR or Primark but you live and you learn.
So, now it’s October 2015, I’m starting my degree part-time, in the evenings at Birkbeck. So, I’ve skipped a lot of personal details that also impacted my journey (relationships, other internships etc) but by then, I had switched to working in a school as a teaching/special needs assistant Monday to Friday, in order to be able to get to class in the evenings straight after work (December 2014). For the first year, I loved the kids, and in turn, the job because I felt like I was needed and my help was valued. I also managed to bag a zero-hours contract job at Birkbeck university, working with the BBK Outreach Team, which I really enjoyed. Here, I was working full-time, studying part-time, with another part-time job. By 2015, I was hating the school job because by year 2, there was no more niceness, a lot of politics, bullying and malicious acts. I was depressed at work and I was trying to juggle this new degree which was interesting but intense. I was encouraged by a fellow colleague and my partner to complain, but I wasn’t quick enough. I wanted to just keep my head down and get on with it. I remember I was having such a shit time, and other colleagues were starting to see how I was being treated by some staff members. I cried a handful of times between October 2015 and February 2016 when I left the school. The reason why I stayed for nearly two years was because I needed money to pay over £300 a month, by direct debit, to Birkbeck university. Yes, I had saved beforehand but I didnt wanna blow off all my savings. I wanted to work.
Moral of the story is: if you are unhappy, leave. Your allegiance is to yourself, your sanity and your mental health. To be fair, I was living with my parents so if I wasn’t working, I’d survive but this keeness to do and to do everything myself, for myself, eventually added to the stress and unhappiness.
So once I quit, I still had my BBK Outreach contract and I did another internship in the city but i didn’t have a stable, full time job – this is where the savings came in handy to pay my uni fees. I then got a job at another school as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant in the summer of 2016. Simultaneously with my degree, I started a teaching assistant qualification course in 2016 which I passed and got accepted onto the Teacher Training. This school was a really good experience and my line manager was helpful and supportive.
After a year, I moved to my current school, completing my dissertation in September 2017, overlapping with the start of my Teacher Training also in September 2017. Again, I juggled university, full time work, teacher training applications, interviews etc. to then start and end my dissertation and teacher training simultaneously. And what have I learnt? I’ve learnt that I’m hardworking, qualified, I work well under pressure, that I’m experienced but I’m also TIRED.
I graduate from BBK today but I’m still a student of the University of Hertfordshire on Teacher Training. It’s long. I’m tired. And I kind of want a break but also, want to keep the momentum.
All of this and I graduate with a distinction?!? Thank the most high.
Overall, I’ve learnt that I need to take care of myself. Because I’m working, getting qualifications, degrees etc. everything appears to be fine. But actually, it isn’t always fine. Sometimes it’s pretty shit. Sometimes work sucks. Sometimes you don’t socialise with uni folks because you’re so tired, and they think you’re rude. Self love people. Grades and careers are amazing achievements but a person who is mentally and physically healthy, full of self love and knowledge of self is better.
The hustle will continue. I will work. I will blog. I will apply for that PhD. But more importantly, I’m going to work on the inner parts of me. The parts I’ve neglected in order to reach the goals we celebrate because I wanna live life. It’s about that time.