The Last Ten Days

“Should I go for a Master’s degree to increase my competitiveness, and while I’m still in vigorous academic form?”

“Should I try something else before starting to teach in order to gain a wider range of life experience?”

“Will I be made redundant in a few years if the population begins to drop?”

“Will I be able to cope with real-life teaching?”

“Will I be able to find a decent teaching position?”

“Am I really competent enough to be a teacher?”

“Will my parents be disappointed if I really go into teaching?”

For many of you in my CALL course, your undergraduate studies will come to an end in ten days. I’m sure the above is only a partial list of the worries that have kept gnawing at your minds, while you are toiling round the clock through the very final assignments of your university days.

This is a taxing time for you. On the one hand, unless something goes terribly wrong, you know you are going to get your degree soon. But on the other hand, there are still heaps of long assignments lying ahead to be cleared. One student moaned on Facebook: “It’s so near, yet so far away.” Another groaned: “What an inhuman life I’m leading!” To make matters worse, even when you can take your mind off the assignment on your desk for one minute, some of the above destiny questions will immediately pop to the front from the back of your mind.

As far as assignments are concerned, the only thing I can say to you is: Hang in there! Think of the thousands of assignments, tests, and examinations, that you’ve gone through, and cleared, in your life. You will survive this final 100 metres sprint.

As for worrying about whether you will make the right destiny decision in the next couple of months, well, that’s a tricky part of life. Yes, you will finish one chapter of your life soon, and are going to start a new one. Unfortunately, deciding on which course of action to take, is not like buying a shirt or a handbag in a shop, where all the options are laid out before you, so that you can examine them, feel them, and compare them up to the last detail before deciding on which item to stake your money on. Life is full of uncertainty. No one can tell you with 100% confidence what will happen to the teaching profession in a few years time, what may happen to you if you try something else, or even what kind of person you will become two years from now.

Yes, I know it’s difficult to make this kind of decision. One moment, you want to be absolutely objective. The next moment, you want to follow your heart.

If you go for the totally objective decision, you may still be wondering whether you will miss out on something more meaningful and worthwhile in life.

If you follow your heart, you are afraid that one day you may regret your “naivety”.

How we wish we had the crystal ball!

But it is this uncertainty that makes life intriguing. What fun would there be if we could see everything that an important life decision would lead to?

If at this moment, you mind is more important to you than your heart, then weigh all the factors that you are cognizant of, and make the most rational decision you can.

If your heart is more important to you than your mind at this moment, then tell yourself you are still young (yes you are), then follow your heart, and decide that no matter what this turns out to be, you will not regret this decision later.

Like for many important events, such as marriage, having children, emigration, further studies, very often there is no right or wrong decision. It’s making the best decision you can at the moment. Sometimes, it’s simply just making a decision. Looking back at the important decisions I’ve made in my life, I can see that some of them led to an undesired outcome, like landing a job that I later found unrewarding. But I did not blame life, or myself, because I had earlier made what appeared to be a sensible decision under the circumstances of the time. Furthermore, even a negative experience is an experience, and will always contribute to, in some way, to our later life!

Lastly, if you’re having doubts about your ability, remember that no one starts with all the ability required for any job. We all learn on the job. Throw yourself into it, and you will get the ability.

All the best!


One thought on “The Last Ten Days

  1. Pauline

    Hi Paul,
    Making decisions is indeed hard and even if we think we’ve made the best decision at the time, it can turn out to be quite disastrous. Though, I must say that even so, we do grow stronger through the experience and the older we get, the more pain we can withstand. C’est la vie!

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