‘Should I stay or should I go?’

Screenshot 2018-03-27 15.29.16

Hey! Its been a while, a long while. I’ve thought about this poor neglected blog quite a few times over the past few months, but haven’t quite found either the time, the topic or the tenacity to post some of the things I’ve been wondering about …
… until now
Life for me is very good these days, very good indeed, in fact – since I quit teaching, actually. I have started to learn what ‘feeling well’ actually feels like, and it feels wonderful. That constant knot of panic in my stomach has gone away and serenity has descended … bliss
That’s not to say that I’m floating around in a meditative state of nirvana all day, no, because since I started my MSc in January I’ve been studying or working all the time. By ‘all the time’ I mean that I’ve done a couple of running events, a few Parkruns, caught the odd News at 10 and shared a couple of meals with friends, and the rest of the time I’ve been grappling with sternocleidomastoids, vestibulospinal tracts and ischaemic hypoxia or doing my Open University work, which I decided to keep going with to pay for, well, living.
There have been tears, but I’m not afraid of emotions and I knew it would happen at some point, and there haven’t been many. They came about twenty minutes into the ‘Shoulder’ lecture, where, despite my very best efforts, the glenoid fossa, coracoid process and serratus anterior were just running away from me … the tutor raced through, my fellow students were seemingly racing with him (I know that not all of them were, but it felt like they were), and the session started to feel like it was disappearing into the distance while I was still working out what he meant by a scapulo-humeral rhythm that was 6 slides ago. I was plodding along at my 12 minute / mile pace and in the wrong race.
And that was ok, actually – I have learned much about how to deal with really challenging material and what it feels like to be at the bottom of the class. For example, I know now to buddy up with different students who are not afraid to say what they don’t know. I know too that after 4-8 more hours of study I will get it, and eventually I might actually remember some of this stuff as well. I could actually explain to you a V/Q mismatch and I can describe the function of all 12 cranial nerves now, without my notes!! I know that I will probably know enough to get through the course and become a physio …
What I don’t know is whether I want to,
And I’ve been toying with the idea of quitting the course for quite a while now … more so now that I have a bit of time out for the Easter break (although I’m still getting up at six to work and study because I have so much to do!).
The thing is that since I left teaching I have also learned to be gentle with myself, with all manner of things. These days I never start a race determined to finish, for example – instead I decide to show up, start and then see how far I fancy carrying on for. Last weekend I started an event in the Peak District, and not only did I not complete the distance I’d entered, I met Carol for a coffee and a brownie in a local brewery with two miles still left to go – my certificate said ’20 miles in 7 1/2 hours’, and I’m actually quite proud of that. Failure is fine, in fact, because for me it just means that I’d stopped enjoying myself, so I stopped. I’m not in the business of trying to re-frame failure, because let’s be honest – not doing the 27 mile distance you’d entered means you failed to complete that distance, but its ok.
So I’m not concerned about my self esteem if I quit, my self esteem is pretty secure these days – that’s one of the advantages of being of maturer years! No, its about more than that. There are so very many ifs and buts going on in my head right now, although I think there are probably three key pros and cons …
I have an NHS bursary and I feel obliged to make good use of such a valued opportunity, that in fact no one else will ever get, because we were the last cohort to get it. I feel like I will have taken that opportunity from someone else.
My work with the Open University is insecure – each contract depends upon enough students signing up for my course. Not only that, but with more competition from other distance learning providers I’m unsure what the future holds … so physiotherapy is my Plan B.
Despite the fact that its so demanding and taking up all of my time, I am actually enjoying the academic stimulation of doing something so hard – if I quit how else could I challenge my brain and stave off dementia for a few more years?
I failed to finish my event last weekend because I haven’t been out running and I’m not on form – I miss running, and I really enjoy running, I REALLY ENJOY IT, like loooaaads.
I really enjoy working for the Open University – if I quit my course I could take up extra work with them, cover for absent colleagues, do more professional development (But probably not a PhD, I know it makes sense, but I just can’t get my head around doing one ‘topic’ for so long, so don’t think I haven’t considered this … !). I could be a really good Associate Lecturer, make it my career.
I could clean the house, have meals on the table when my wife comes home, sew, fix things, read for pleasure, play the piano, listen to music … and while we’re on the subject of music. Music is a rare pleasure for me, its like chocolate, the less I have it the more I enjoy it … and today I was looking for the lyrics for the blog post, and I actually listened to this … (yes I know, I should’ve been working, but today’s been a bit of an off-day) … and now I can’t get it out of my head
Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
It’s always tease, tease, tease
You’re happy when I’m on my knees
One day it’s fine and next it’s black
So if you want me off your back
Well, come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
This indecision’s bugging me (esta indecision me molesta)
If you don’t want me, set me free (si no me quieres, librame)
Exactly whom I’m supposed to be (digame que tengo ser)
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me? (no sabes que ropas me queda)
Come on and let me know (me tienes que decir)
Should I cool it or should I blow? (me debo ir o quedarme)
So there it is … I’m not even sure what I’d like readers to do now –
Tell me what to do?
Yes, if you like
Offer another factor that I may not have thought about?
Yes, please, that’d be good
Tell me I can do it, I’m a fighter, I’m amazing?
No, I know I can do it, and fighting doesn’t really float my boat these days
Just read it and wonder what my decision will be?
Yes, probably that too …

5 thoughts on “‘Should I stay or should I go?’

  1. Really pleased to hear you’re so happy with life in general 🙂 I won’t tell you what to do, but how about I toss a coin for you: heads you keep doing physio and finish the course, tails you quit to concentrate on the OU work?

    I’ll do it & will take a picture of the result, but i’ll only tell you if you want to know. Your gut reaction to the result will tell you everything you need to know 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s way too scary at the moment!
      The reason I’ve finished so many races with my ‘See how far you feel like going’ attitude is that I just never quite got around to making the decision to stop. ‘If in doubt, do nowt’ seems to have kept me going …
      Flipping a coin or seeing your flipped coin means actually making a decision!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many balls juggling in the air
    Do what makes you happy and you may find the blog is a good alternative every now and then – but don’t put pressure on yourself of how often to post – keep it relaxed and do when you can and want to
    Good luck with the courses and do happy to read that life balance is back 😀


  3. Flora Marriott says:

    Hi Ann. I do admire and enjoy your blog posts. I wish I was half as articulate and interesting. Anyway, I totally understand your quandary. It’s funny how often I’ve heard people say that the higher ed/uni course they are taking is restrictive for them. I think that the structure of traditional uni education is outdated. It is anything but learner centred. (OU excepted). It’s more fun to learn at a pace that suits me. And there’s so many ways to learn now. So one thing to consider – and I’m sure you have done this – is that you can continue to learn long distance etc.
    The other thing is that as you shut one door then others open. (As you know from leaving secondary school teaching). Yes the OU may be open to more competition than ever. But those competitors also need content and tutors. And as AI plays a bigger role in education, it will bring with it the opportunity for human tutors to actually spend more 1-1 and small group time teaching and coaching other humans.

    I’m no wizard at decision making. But In case of use, one thing I try to do sometimes when faced with a tricky choice, is to put myself in the shoes of my 90 year old self. What would that person advise me to do? What would be the best use of my limited time on earth. As Daniel Kahneman recently said, time is the only truly finite resource that we have.

    Last thing, on the running. I love that you are prioritising enjoyment. What a wise attitude. Just last week I read a blog post by my favourite author, running coach Steve Magness. In it he talks about how non professional runners (and anyone who does sports) should keep things in perspective. It’s just a hobby and hobbies should be fun.

    “Regardless of the sport, when I go too hard too soon (reckless) I get injured. When I don’t enjoy it and working out becomes a chore it degrades rather than enhances my mental health. But when I’m having fun and working hard (but not recklessly), my health—both physical and mental—are wonderful”

    This is the link to his post https://www.peakperformancebook.net/single-post/2018/03/21/Dont-Split-Hairs-and-Understand-Before-You-Criticize

    Good luck with the decision. See you soon. 😀🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️⛰


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