You know life is giving you all the wrong turns when everything bad that could happen starts to pile on top of each other.
So where do I begin?
This last week was the end of the intensive schedule. I have been so overworked that my mind and body were beginning to resent everything in front of me. I was stressed out and tired and was worrying about the littlest of things. And so within all this my emotions ran high and several events took place.
Here is the back story:
Two of my coworkers who I sit next to have been friendly to me. But after a few mistakes on my part things turned sour. One day I threw a teaching material onto their desk and they saw it and took it personally. Also on occasion I would respond to them coldly.
In general let me just say that I wanted to be their friends and work it out with them, but didn't know how. I wanted to understand their thinking and get to know them better.
But I was too tired and stressed to talk to them. I am not good with conflict and need to seriously work on this. But during the intensive week was not the time.
My friend from the front desk returned from her trip to Canada. I like to talk with her at lunch time and so I talked with her about my feelings towards these two coworkers. Yea, I got out some thoughts to someone and got some feedback! I didn't do it in a catty way, just more of a venting way.
My supervisors and I had a meeting about my performance. They pretty much told me everything that I had been making mistakes on.
- Not being friendly to the coworkers (cold attitude)
- Forgetting to hand out the materials to students (extra papers for study, parent complaint)
- Not making the class fun enough for the little ones (parent complaint)
Again let me tell you that the timing of the meeting was really awful. It was 20 minutes before my last class of the day, the 10th class. I had been at the school since 9am and it was 6:30pm.
I was tired, run down, emotionally unstable, worried and not at all confident in myself.
So I reacted with anger and spite! I told them everything that I was upset with about the school and about my coworkers.
To my surprise they listened and gave me a response that was genuinely professional and also caring.
But they did tell me that if I receive more complaints that are too serious then I can be given written notice. Meaning Fired, leaving me two months to find another job or leave the country.
I left Wednesday night more tired than ever before, mentally shattered and feeling very down trodden. Yet I had to go back the next day and teach yet another 10 classes, this time with more of the young rowdy children.
The day was moving along and I felt like a numb puppet going about the daily exercises of teaching. I figured just get through the week and think about all that has happened on Saturday when you can relax.
Yet as anyone who is familiar with gossip knows when it finally gets to the people who were being exposed it comes out very badly.
The two coworkers I talked about with my friend found out that I was talking about them behind their back.
While I was sitting in the teacher's room waiting to teach my next class I was confronted by both them and it was ugly. They were really angry (I don't blame them actually) and said things to me that were nasty.
Being in my state of numbness and pain from Wednesday night's experience with my supervisors I was not at all capable of dealing with this confrontation.
A professional normal person (I suppose) would have said "Ok, lets please take this to another room?"
A crazed Joy who was emotional unstable, insecure and stressed out did this instead: She ran off crying.
I tried to exit out the stairwell only to be stopped by my friend at the front desk. After talking with her and my teacher supervisor I was convinced not to leave.
I told my teacher supervisor that I wanted to quit, that I was now very uncomfortable here and feel I have screwed things up beyond repair. To my surprise she actually understood me and accepted that that is how I feel.
For the rest of the day I didn't go into the teacher's room and went home.
Friday afternoon (meeting with coworkers):
It was arranged that I would meet in a room with my supervisors and with the coworkers who were angry at me.
Let me just say I was scared. It went like all death matches go...some dueling and then a quick blow to the head and your out.
No..no.. we had some spats and then finally came to a resolution. This being that I need to change myself and my attitude. To be more professional at a job like this and not let me emotions carry me through the day. In other words don't be so cold and don't think that others know how you feel all the time.
I actually agree with them that I did screw up in those ways and need to change myself. Although there is a side of me that understands that I am innocent to some degree.
They also made the point that running away back to America or to another job here in Korea would be that I am not willing to change but rather just run away from problems. They said I need to change myself at this school and with everyone in it.
So here lies the final conundrum.
- Do I stay or do I go?
- Do I stay and change myself at this school?
- Do I change companies while changing myself at a new school? Get a fresh start and do everything right with a new set of coworkers.
The realization is that so far I am not satisfied with my job, the hours and the work environment are all to unpleasant. Remember I work in a small school with only 8 coworkers, 3 of which are foreign teachers (not including myself).
For now I don't have to be hasty and make a switch just yet. I have time to look out there and see what is available.
The intensive period has finished and so I just want to bounce back to a regular schedule while at the same time explore my options.
Please note that I don't feel this reflects that working in Korea is a bad idea. It is just one that is challenging to me for so many reasons. I am not going to run away but rather seek to understand my weaknesses and strengths. Thank you