First week in a new job

Very exciting news!

I finally have a teaching assistant job in a school!

Regarding  the interview I had for the job, I felt that it went horrifically. There were so many questions to answer. Some of the questions I felt as if I gave a somewhat decent response, but most others I was not confident about.

One thing which is a frequent struggle with my social anxiety is being given a question I do not expect and not sure how to answer. My brain simply vacates the premises and words spurt out which are not completely coherent, the word ‘like’ being the word I use most. This happened too often during the interview. Either that or I repeated myself, using the same instances a couple of times. I came out of my interview feeling awful about how I answered questions and started questioning my life choices, thinking I would have to get an office job or something.

However, by some miracle, I got offered the job later that day!

I have been working at the school for a whole week now, and so far it has been alright!

As I am considering going into a career involving education, I wanted some paid experience working in a school for a year (in between graduating and going on to post-grad study next year).

I can safely say already, I do not want to teach. Despite being set on being a teacher throughout my degree, I now look back like ‘Why did I ever want to be a teacher?’ Excluding the fact that it is extremely stressful and hard work (I don’t handle stress well) and involves thinking on my feet if a lesson isn’t going to plan (Also not good at that). Excluding those reasons, it involves talking to an audience of children (Which I am terrible at!).

I think it was just something I knew would be a massive challenge for me with my social anxiety, but I wanted to help children learn so much that I was willing to take on this challenge. Although, I have learnt from my experience working in a fast food place during the summer (which I quit after 3 weeks and many breakdowns by the way) that having this anxiety makes me unsuited to certain types of jobs, unless I get some miraculous therapy.

At the present time, I am considering going to study a masters in educational psychology. This would hopefully lead into a research career, writing psych journals on educational issues and interventions in school, conducting the actual research myself. Which is basically what I did for my dissertation for my undergrad, but in more depth. This way, I feel I can make a contribution towards education, but it wouldn’t be as anxiety-provoking for me. See it as the ‘behind the scenes’ in education.

I think I have started to accept that I have a certain personality and I may not be able to change that. Therefore, I can play on the strengths I actually have and use those to bring forward something good, as well as feeling at ease in whatever I go on to do.

Back to the actual job I have now, I have mixed feelings about my time there so far. I much MUCH prefer this job to working in fast food! But then again, I think anything would be better! It’s great to be paid for something which should actually benefit children, rather than feeding them greasy burgers.

Everyone I have met at the school seem super friendly and welcoming, even the students seem mostly pleasant (although it is only their first week of school so there is time for troublesome behaviour!). Talking to the staff, and even the kids sometimes can be a struggle because of how I am as a person. Seriously, I need some training in how to have a casual conversation with someone without feeling nervous and self-conscience! But it’s a good job everyone is friendly.

My teacher who I work with is also really friendly, and very passionate about her job, and the students seem to like her. However, I feel rather anxious around her as she expects a lot from me. Since she knows about my pretty decent grade in my educational psychology degree, she wants me to give her feedback on her lessons, telling her what to do better, and just generally any ideas I may have about specific students or lessons. She basically doesn’t want someone who will just follow orders and quietly get on with things (which is what I’m best at!)

I really find it difficult to speak out and give my opinions on things. Honestly, most of the time, I can’t really criticise her methods as I think they’re what I would have suggested. But telling her that I like them doesn’t convince her so I have to think of things which could be improved on. I have to learn to take more initiative as well, as she has told me this a couple of times. I find this hard too because if I do things I haven’t been told to do, I panic that I will get yelled at for it or I’m doing everything wrong. I have been making a few mistakes with things too, small things such as photocopying something wrong or doing jobs in the wrong order. But I hate doing things wrong, because I think about it for days, even weeks after, it’s so frustrating.

However, its a new week on Monday. I’m still getting used to how the school runs, I still need to know the names of a lot of students, but I have a better idea of what I’m doing this time around. I will try to be more initiative and more honest and open to my teacher. Hopefully I can really enjoy myself and make at least one child succeed at something. That would really make this all worth it.

Struggles of an introvert in an extroverted work environment.

I recently started a job intended just for this summer. I work in a fast food restaurant at  what is best described as a theme park/zoo. The basic layout of the restaurant works the same as McDonald’s and other fast food chains, just that the food is more expensive.

This is a social anxiety post because working here for the last 6 days in a row (the pain in my lower back is unreal by the way), I have had to meet a lot of new people as well as conversing with customers.

First of all, I am one of the oldest workers at my restaurant, the majority of the employees still being at school or college, so already there are differences between us. Don’t get me wrong, everyone I have spoken to thus far have been incredibly friendly and helpful, although it is slightly bizarre being trained by someone almost 6 years younger than me!

However, most of my colleagues are very outgoing and loud, which makes me feel very much aware that I am the opposite of them. They will all chat to each other and have a joke around, whereas I prefer to just get on with my work in almost silence, enjoying something to focus on. I have tried to talk to some of my colleagues, I have asked questions about what they do outside of work, what they hope to achieve in the future etc. I feel I am getting more confident about asking questions about people, although when they respond, I never know what to say other than ‘Yeah’ or ‘Okay’, therefore the conversation dies pretty quickly.

Another aspect of the job, is having to let the kitchen staff know how many burgers are left on the slidey display thing and to request orders which are less popular. I don’t have much issue with doing this, but the issue comes when the kitchen staff do not hear me over the noise of everything else going on. I have been told countless times to shout louder to them. However, I have found I physically cannot shout very loud. The best way to describe the feeling is to imagine that there is a belt tightly fitted around my voice box. When I am in my own company, the belt is pretty loose and I can choose the volume of my voice. However, when I am in the company of a lot of people I am not yet comfortable to be around, the belt constricts tighter around me, making the volume of my voice quieter as a result. This is evidently something I need to work on.

Yesterday, I was placed in an annexe just attached to the main restaurant, which only sells drinks and jacket potatoes. I had this sixteen year old boy help me out for a while, how to cook the potatoes and the toppings etc. After that, I was left alone for the remainder of my shift. The small place was no where near as busy as the restaurant (because who goes to a theme park to have a jacket potato when you can have a burger?). I did not have many customers at all, but when I did, I quite enjoyed preparing the potatoes for those few customers. When there were no customers, I would stand and watch the world go by, do some light cleaning and as an added bonus, I had a view of some giraffes in the distance! I absolutely loved this more relaxed atmosphere, where I could have a break from having to fake my confidence to my colleagues and not be stressed when the customers were not served straight away. I had a lot more responsibilities in there because I had to pretty much run the place myself, but I am sure with more shifts there I would gain more confidence with that.

But apparently the jacket potato place is despised by most other employees because it is too lonely for them. I think I may be the only person who would willingly want to work there and not have to make small talk with others! It felt like I was on a break most the day.

Oh, but breaks are absolute bliss! I get to sit in the break room, where there are other people, but it is perfectly socially acceptable to just sit in silence and think about life for 30 minutes. No one tries to talk to you. No one judges you for trying to have a nap. It is absolute heaven for other introverts like myself however I have been told by my colleagues it is ‘depressingly quiet’ in there!

Eh, I guess depressingly quiet is a good way to describe me!

Job interview

Tomorrow I have a job interview for a Learning Support Assistant, working in a high school. 

This would be my first graduate job if I were to get it. My plan is to get a job as a teaching assistant or just generally working with special needs individuals for the next academic year. Therefore I  would have more experience and chance to get onto either a teaching course or to study a doctorate in Educational Psychology from 2016. 

I am extremely nervous since I get so anxious for interviews and I hate when questions are spontaneous that I haven’t prepared for them. I applied to 3 universities for a teaching course and was fortunate enough to get interviews for all of them. I even got an interview at one university which is in the Russell Group (Britain’s equivalent to Ivy League). But after my interviews I got rejected from all of them. I always come across too nervous. One of the many reasons I despise having social anxiety because I have the knowledge and ability to do what I want, but my lack of confidence holds me back (and who wants a teacher who is not confident?). 

So I am preparing my butt off for this interview tomorrow. I am writing down possible questions and my responses to them, researching the school and all its policies, and I will practise my body language and eye contact. I even bought a new dress for the interview (I wanted to wear black trousers but decided against it since England is having a horrendous heatwave at the moment). 

 
My Pusheen cat approves of the pretty dress! 

Anyway I am currently still in bed, reluctant to begin interview preparation again. 

Hope you have a nice day.