Eager. Excited. Engaged. Elated.
I would use those words to describe how I felt when it finally hit me that after years of hard work, I finally earned my degree. I was sure I was on a path of career, finally time for adultness. I may even become a writer.
Pales in comparison to how I actually felt when I left Nova Scotia to return home to Alberta to find so many challenges with finding a meaningful job or even just a JOB. It seemed like no one would even call me back. I thought having a degree made my valuable in the work place. I thought a degree was a degree was a degree. A tool. Something to set me apart from the crowd. I thought I was beyond customer service. I thought my retail days were over. I handed out resume after resume and nothing.
I had every self conscious thought that women have … “Am I pretty enough for this job?” “What if they don’t hire me because I am too fat?” “Am I qualified?” “I think they will hire a man/women/anyone before they will hire me!” “Am I too old?” “Am I too young?” You know the unconfident– self conscious insanity.
Migrant Worker – not where I thought I’d end up. (I use the term Migrant rather loosely as when I say migrant I mean expat.)
The life I chose because life in Canada didn’t chose me.
When I moved to Asia, it felt like, in a way, I was exploited for my skills as a native English language speaker. As a women, teaching in Asia, it is a respect profession – an Asian woman as a teacher is an expected and well adjusted career. As a foreign woman – it is largely something that just is. Limited days off, over worked, underpaid – but slightly unaware because of a language barrier. Learning the ways of a new company is challenging, learning the work habits of a new country – even harder.
Lesson learned. Leaving home meant sustaining myself. It meant adventure. It meant learning.
We are lucky enough to live in a world that changes faster than we can learn the rules. We are lucky that we evolve. My years spent as an English language teacher taught me how to treat inter cultural people in my own country. Taught me confidence in my ability. Taught me that rules are meant to be broken even in a language you don’t speak. Taught me that everything is worth the fight.
I was not taught in university that it would be so hard to find work with an Arts degree. I had no clue what my skill set was or what could even do – as the years passed and I muddled around trying to figure it out – hopped around Countries trying to show my teaching clout. I learn a few things – but manly I learned one thing – and that is that it’s worth the fight. Every challenged I faced I learned what I was worth. For every Asian who told me I didn’t belong in their country but used English to do it; I learn my worth as a teacher. And, for every eager friend at home who wanted to be able to be free enough to seek employment somewhere else; my stories helped then along.
In the end – Challenges make us stronger. I am this confident, strong, well traveled soul because I needed more than our economy could offer.