Questions and answers

With what’s been going on in the political world recently, I have been glued to the news apps on my phone, thinking constantly that I need to get off them and stop giving myself a headache. It’s easy to feel angrier by the day about what’s happening. I don’t know what the answers are; it seems to have little to do with my life, but at the same time it has to do with everything. Every day as soon as I wake up there’s the temptation to switch on the phone and find out the latest news from America, because the universe currently seems out of balance and I need to know when it’s been restored. I can get ill thinking about it. Whilst the universe’s equilibrium remains off kilter I find it hard to meditate, to clear the buzz from my head. When I’m trying to create silence in my head the noise keeps pulling me in, thanks to this need I have to keep checking on it, making sure it’s all right.

We’ve just passed week 4 of the counselling class – unbelievable it’s week 4 already! – and I am as committed to qualifying as I was in the beginning. In fact I think I’m more committed than ever. The class isn’t too challenging, yet, but I know I’m getting a lot out of it. I’ve had the same feeling in the past during other academic exercises, such as when I was learning French a few years ago: the feeling that I am doing something worthwhile and completely for me. It adds something to my life that a 9 to 5 office job can’t.

A month into the course I’m closer to some members of the class than others, but that’s all right. I got the opportunity to speak about it in triad work yesterday – the part of the day where we act as client and therapist. I told my ‘therapist’ about my doubts regarding some people I’ve never spoken to in the class, because we have to bring something real to the practise, and as she practised her empathic listening skills on me I came to the conclusion that I can’t pressure myself to make more friends there. We’ve got six months; things will happen of their own accord if they’re meant to.

I am fully committed to the idea of continuing to the next level of training, level 4, which will take another two years and qualify me to practise as a counsellor. I knew it was what I wanted to do at the start; having begun to study the profession at a higher level I’m even more determined to carry on. The thing that stands in the way is not the cost – I’m lucky enough to be able to afford the fees now, for which I’ll always be grateful to RG – it’s my current job. I can’t see it being easy to persuade them to let me cut my hours so I can study counselling at diploma level. The college I’m studying at now is where I want to continue, because they have really good tutors and facilities, I like the place, but it doesn’t seem to run diploma classes on weekends, only weekdays. This year I found out diploma class is on Tuesday. It could be any day of the week next year, I guess depending on the availability of rooms and teachers, so I wouldn’t even know what day I’d have to take off work until the start of the course. It would be the same wherever I chose to study. I don’t mind what day of the week class is, but my manager might mind.

As soon as I tell my manager I want to switch to part time working so I can study for a qualification in counselling, she’ll know that my heart isn’t really in my current job. I sense that she is the type of person to question and suspect her staff’s dedication to the team. Although since she started in January I have done everything she’s asked and have worked as hard as I would in any job, I don’t feel like she really trusts or believes in me. She has approached me a few times to point out flaws in my work; and whenever I want to take a day off there are questions about it. The manager we had before Christmas, K, was much better at building trust and I never felt that I had to justify myself to her. Ironically, the current boss only works four days a week, as she just had a baby and stays home on Fridays to look after them, so I shouldn’t have to worry about requesting a similar change to my contract, right? Not that we’ve ever talked about it, so I don’t really know what her reaction will be, but I just get the impression she won’t see my desire to make time for studying in the same way.

Though there’s no time for regrets, I really wish I had been firmer in the beginning about sticking to part time hours! If it was still the same manager, then she might be sympathetic to my wishes, given that I had Fridays off when she was around and it sort of worked out. Now it’s a new team and they’ve gotten used to me being there every day, I’m paranoid about rocking the boat.

There’s been more work to do recently, so it’s not as dull as it was a few weeks ago, which is something. I still think I’d be justified in saying that I could do this role four days a week instead of five. I can only wait and see what they say. I already know that I will have to face having that conversation at some point – I can’t ignore what I know I want to do with my life. If they won’t let me change my hours, I guess I’d have to consider leaving, it’s that important.

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