“I Have Nothing to Offer But Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat.”

-Winston Churchill

This summer was really hard.

My grandma died, my best friend's grandma had a stroke, trips gone bad, summer work with my cousins got to me. I was looking forward to the school year to begin, only so that I could be around my coworkers that I like. Spending the summer working alone 10 hour days with two boys had become work without any reprieve. I was looking forward to people with whom I share the same experiences with kids, with whom I can always joke around with to provide some comic relief in the intensity of our exhausting jobs. But what I had done was compartmentalize my stress and concerns. I deliberately push aside any thoughts that I could about the pending school year, as I do every summer. I do this because I have to, it makes the most sense. Each and every school year becomes harder and harder. There is no point in worrying about it during the summer. Even if I had not done this, nothing would prepare me for the utter shit that this school year has been. And I say this at barely two months into it. The short version is that we have more kids on our caseload than we have ever had, and not enough employees. Not only do we have 9 students, we have students with such vast differences in their needs from us. Another haunting that looms over me is the fact that my boss is taking maternity leave starting November to adopt a newborn. However, just today that has changed and the mother of the child has decided to keep her baby. But let's continue with the story as if that news has not come.

Let me bring you into August 2016. School has started and all the stress has unfolded many times over. The absolute worst part was the mood of my boss. She is a big reason I have stayed in this job for so long. I have never had a boss where I can be myself, have mutual respect, be honest, provide feedback and ask for feedback, and a friend. I have been in many jobs where I have been taken advantage because of my high work ethics. I'm a hard worker who is loyal and stays in each job for years. Currently, I have been working with special needs children for 4 years and 9 months. And that also includes having up to two other jobs working with special needs after school and during school breaks. So basically 10 hour days with children. I've always said that I wanted this experience, I have learned so much, it is the most challenging job I've had yet. It has changed me in countless ways, both positive and negative. It's been a struggle. Anyways, it was obvious on my boss's face everyday that she did not want to be there. I understood, yet it translated to me not wanting to be there too. If I can't rely on her, then why am I here? I started to look for other jobs. I spent weekends looking into other companies. I was looking for anything, even in retail, overnight stocking jobs, anything that would give me the freedom to be myself again.

This job has taken a toll on my mental, emotional, physical, and creative state. Mentally, I am exhausted, and hardly go out because I want to spend time doing nothing by myself. Emotionally, work has been harder because I am still grieving my grandma. Even if I don't think about her everyday now, I am not exactly the same. Physically, I continue to gain weight because I am lazy from utter exhaustion every day after work. I have been paying 10 bucks a month for a gym membership for 2 years and only used 3 months worth of it. My feet hurt, my back and hips are tight and tense, my legs and feet are iced every week. Creatively I have lost the drive more and more each year. I write less, I blog less, I read less, I paint less. I'm blocked, my creative flow is blocked. I read during the summer usually, and I haven't read a damn page in a book since school started. I should also mention I have not had a single relationship since I've been working with children. I was in my last relationship when I started at the school and it ended soon after. I've dated here and there, but nothing substantial or with any worthwhile direction.

There have been some upsides lately though. I started a thing called Bullet Journaling, which has allowed me to take more control of my life in terms of productivity. I have been keeping track of my moods, to do lists, job searches, healthy and unhealthy habits, some creative ideas, and so on. I have been more productive with things around the house,with my car, with my phone (which I've had countless problems), and work related paperwork. It has helped me tremendously with my job search. I have so many aspects to look into. Pay, health insurance, taxes, hours, benefits, etc. I live in affordable housing so it is important for me to stay here and fit within the eligibility. I have made steps into the direction of fixing issues with my car. I had applied to work for Uber. Unfortunately my car is too old to be a regular Uber driver but it does fit the requirements to be a driver for the new UberEATS which is a food delivery service. I have only tried it once so far, but it will be a helpful addition to getting me away from working with children. Because as said before, many times, I need to stop this. I cannot work with children anymore. I've lost a lot of the love within myself. I've lost touch with the loving caring person that I am. I may still be that person deep down, but it's not in the forefront, I show it in different ways, not necessarily what I want it to be. My patience has also been worn thin. Needless to say, I am very good at my job regardless. Another quick positive result is that I continue to cook frequently, I would consider that a creative outlet in some way. It also provides a great deal of stress relief for me. Once I start prepping and cooking, I tend to forget the days events and dive into it. It also helps me eat healthy too.

My boss has also gotten better, and gradually little more to her usual self but still not quite the same....

Now this brings me to the point I really want to make. I took it upon myself to research a job I had previously considered, but didn't think it was worth it originally. United Blood Services had hired my cousin over a year ago, and I was under the assumption at the time that I needed certain requirements which was proven wrong. I also worried that the pay was not enough. After many texts, conversations, and research, I decided it was what I wanted. I applied in the middle of September. Originally when I was looking for jobs, I had planned to get one and then put in my notice, without any prior conversation with my current employer. However, I was merely researching and had not applied anywhere yet. But when I decided to put in my application with United Blood Services (UBS), I realized that I needed to use my boss as a reference therefore I must tell her first before she would get any phone calls about it. This created a lot of unnecessary stress. I talked to her and she was supportive. I knew that I wanted to leave before my boss would go on maternity leave because there was absolutely no way I was going to stay there while she was gone. So I had given myself a deadline. But in my mind, while I knew I needed to keep looking, I knew I wanted one job, and that was UBS. It fit all the boxes I have for myself. It provided great health insurance, dental, vision, 401k, Which was a big deal considering that a majority of the other jobs I looked into did not provide quite as much, if at all. I had considered originally doing Uber and still working with my cousins. But both jobs are independent contractor jobs that provide no benefits and withhold no taxes. It was not ideal but it was a backup plan if I could not get something better within my time frame. I had met with my step mom a few times to discuss my insurance options since she works in the industry and has a much better knowledge about it than anyone in my family. I was researching everything and anything. I'm very proud of myself actually. I even had a tarot reading with a friend just to have another way to think everything through. I knew that I was ready, but I was a little worried about the speed in which I was moving. I talked to my employers about the possibility of my upcoming resignation the day I applied to UBS. I had talked with my cousin and he told me training would begin in the beginning of October, so I was preparing myself and all my employers for the possibility of an immediate change (this was 3 weeks prior to October). Which that made me more scared than anything. A week and a half passed and I did not recieve any call backs until I finally did. Just when I was losing hope.

I had been summoned for jury duty in the middle of all this, I usually can get out of it because of my hearing. Granted, I would love to do it, but I really fear my hearing would prevent me from catching significant facts I needed to be a good juror. I had been summoned on call, I prepped everything, went to work expecting to leave for court. I was needed and I left in the middle of my shift and went to court. Turns out the case was a long term case and was expected to run into December or even January in the worst case scenario. There was no way I could give up that much time away from work so I was excused. While I was in court I had shut my phone off. After I left I turned my phone back on, I discovered that I got a call from UBS about my application and if I was still interested. This had made me do somersaults in my mind. I was so overcome with emotions that I cried on my way home. That day and the next I had played phone tag with the woman who inquired with me. I managed to talk to her once but she needed to talk to me for 10 to 15 minutes which I did not have at the time. I was urged to call when I was free. No success at reaching her directly after that. The weekend begun so I had to wait until Monday. I decided to call again before work on Monday and finally reached the woman where I had a brief phone interview just to make sure that I was okay with the job description. I was informed that I would being training in November which was a relief, thus I was able to put in enough time for my notice of resignation. She then passed my info to HR and I awaited a call to set up a face to face interview. I had an interview Tuesday and got offered the job the following day. All this time that I had been talking to my cousin about the job, he had emphasized many times that they hire pretty much anyone and that I should not worry. He was right.

Just this past Friday I put in my notice, my last day is November 3rd. That is the day before my 29th birthday, I usually always take my birthday off, so that is exactly what I'm doing. This makes my birthday celebration a bundle of celebrations! I will still be working with my cousins whenever I can, but not everyday or possibly not even every week. Training runs about 90 days or usually less as I've been told. After training my schedule will fluctuate dramatically. I could work starting at 4am or as late til midnight. Some shifts may even require me to go out of town either for the day or over night for multiple days. The pay is better than what I currently get at the school, but not as much as I currently get with both of my jobs. Thus working with my cousins when possible and doing Uber will supplement that. Eventually I predict not working with my cousins very much, except for holidays and summer. UBS is busy during the school year and slower in the summers, which allows me to work with my cousins during that time.

I'm getting ahead of myself, I should actually describe the position. I will be traveling to sites, typically schools, businesses, and churches, set up equipment, interview, and then draw blood from donors. For the hiring process, I had to undergo a background check and a drug test (my very first one!). During training I will take two tests, which if failed will lead to termination. Per my cousin, I should be fine and pass easily. The main site/office that I will clock in and clock out at is exactly 1.8 miles from my house. That is a huge plus. Training is paid, and income will increase after I pass training. If I ever decide to drive the trucks to the sites, I will also get a pay increase the days that I drive. Based on my interview, my own perspective, and the information given to me by my cousin, this job will be far less stressful than my current one. A key fact that I cannot wait to embrace. There are, of course, ups and downs with the job and working with people and donors, but all my experience leaves me plenty capable to handle it. While I am welcoming the flexibility of the schedule, I do know I will have to adjust to working different hours each day, especially if I have to get up earlier than I already do. Traveling out of town for the job sounds exciting to me, so I'm fine with that. I will be required to wear scrubs, non-porous work shoes, a watch, and keep my hair tied back. I'm excited about wearing scrubs everyday as I have already bought some. I dyed my hair a dark natural color the day I applied to the job because I knew they would probably have an issue with my bright red hair. I will have to keep my septum ring out, but it seems tattoos are not a problem. And blood! I deal with bodily fluids everyday, I am severely far from being grossed out by anything. Blood is definitely the least gross to me, I'm excited to be working with it. Not to mention how excited I am to be working in the medical field!!

Let's see, there is so much more information but that mostly sums it up. There are a lot of little things that aren't important to get into yet. I am as prepared as can be right now. However, I have not really let it set in that I will be leaving my current job. When I got the call that I got the job, my boss was the only other adult in the room with me, I was trying to be modest on the phone and not sound too excited. Work has been so crazy and I have been doing so much prepping, and other errands after work that this information really hasn't settled yet. My mom, my dad, my step mom, and my friends have been incredibly supportive and really all have been waiting for me to make this change. I had a few heart-to-heart conversations with some people during this process. I definitely owe a lot of this taking charge to make a change to my best friend. She had been respectful to me and my wishes not to discuss work stuff very much when we get together, but she also really encouraged me to do something else when I finally broke down. My step mom, too, has been great, she even told me that my father had been worried about me and that thought instantly brings tears to my eyes. He is very proud of me but also wants so much for me to be happy.

In the special education field, the lifespan (or time put in) of an employee is not very long. In autism, it's even shorter. Typically they say 3 to 5 years is the longest someone will work in that field, at least in a school environment. Here, I'm nearly at 5 years, I've almost maxed out. I may not feel like I am fully processing it all right now, but I am damn ready to say goodbye. I want to focus the love that I've lost on myself and on my newborn niece. I'm ready to be the best aunt I've always wanted to be.

I say that because I'm leaving behind these children I have been with for nearly 5 years, some 3 years, some only 1 year, some only a couple months, and I'm ready to focus on the new addition to my family. It so happens that the cousin I will be working with at UBS just had a daughter on September 10th. He has always been a brother and a best friend to me, so naturally I am the aunt to his child. I will have to post more about that, but I just had to say it now.

1 comment:

Whittles Wobble said...

I'm so happy for you. UBS is lucky to have you! Change is good. <3