It's time for me to fly! One of the reasons I wanted to visit a yoga ashram, beside all the obvious ones, was to gain clarity. I knew that during this time away from work and stress and pollution and malaise, that I would find the answer within myself of whether to stay at my job or not, and whether to stay in Chengdu or not.
It's time to go. It's time to leave this soul-sucking black-hole of a job. The loyal part of me that maintains integrity, demands that I suck it up and stick it out until my contract ends in July. But the thought of spending any more time in that classroom makes me depressed beyond words--just the thought of walking back into that classroom on Feb. 18 makes my heart beat fast and my stress level rise and my desire flail for help.
It truly is a terrible job: none of my skills are utilized, we are completely unsupported in the classroom, I was sold all gloss and no substance, it's not truly an international school, it doesn't even measure up as a proper IB school, my co-teacher is awful to work alongside (my other teacher quit this month, if that says anything), and there is not true collaboration or partnership either with my co-teacher or the school leadership. They do not follow through or support any progressive education models such as positive behavior support or conflict resolution. There is no encouragement or support to teach basic life skills, critical thinking, or problem solving... and they totally crush stsudents' creativity. I am basically a highly paid ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, one who detests teaching ESL! I am bored out of my mind, uninspired, and shackled. I was fed great exaggerations, and after a year of "sucking it up", I am ready to throw up and become anorexic! What I do is NOT teaching!
Beyond how much I truly HATE this job, I've concluded that I need to get out of Chengdu. I really don't like it there--I'm simply existing and surviving. I am not thriving at all. How can I thrive in pollution? How can I thrive under grey skies? And most importantly, not having any access to nature is KILLING ME! A walk to the urban park does not suffice. The pathetic handful of trees at school (circumscribing fake grass!) does not enable me to pretend I'm somewhere green. I don't do much socially, although I have handful of friends. There is nothing really drawing me to or keeping me in Chengdu. I love my apartment, but I am not willing to sacrifice living a fulfilled life so I can take a bath and love my living space...although I will not deny how important hygge (Danish for cozy space) is to me, especially after suffering a complete lack thereof for the previous few years. It stands to reason that my having this lovely home is absolutely lovely if all I do is go to work and come home (been there, done that!); however, I am willing to give it up to thrive and live more fully--which I am totally NOT doing in Chengdu. Let me be blunt: the pollution is awful and I don't like the food. These are two vital--literally VITAL--aspects of life: one needs to breathe and eat!
So it follows that I need and want to leave Chengdu (for my health which directly affects my sanity), and I need and want to leave my job (for my sanity which affects my health). I should not be surprised that I can't "get out of the funk" I've dealthwith on and off while I have lived here for the past 12 months! I have been sick too many times to count, and who can be truly happy in a polluted, overcrowded, noisy, dirty city? Well, apparently 20 million others are able to succeed--or perhaps they are just surviving too. I don't see much happiness at my school, that is for sure.
To repeat myself from a previous piece, I did not want a big transition this year: I wanted a no-drama, no-moving, no big life change kind of year. Last year was so damn hard--it is so damn hard to be a foreigner in China, unless you speak Mandarin! Everything is made harder for expats and the rumour is that this will only be getting worse. That aside, there are many beautiful UNPOLLUTED cities in China... I forgot to mention WARM, beautiful, UNPOLLUTED cities. Chengdu is hellacold, though not as bad as Beijing. I really need warmth, sunshine, and clean air. These are musts. Therefore I must go.
The catch is the job. Breaking my contract is doable, but the school might make life difficult for me. I have an offer (nearly) on the table for what sounds like a wonderful primary school post, but it's still in Chengdu. I really want to move south to Yunnan, which is realistic because of the job market. Although my #1 choice is of course Ganzi, there are no schools there. I want access to mountains! There are tons of well-paying jobs in Shanghai and Beijing, both bigger cities with more people and pollution, no thank you! The two schools I had my eye on in Kunming, the capitol city of Yunnan province, are not hiring. There are also many schools hiring in Guangzhao, which I believe is in Guangdong province; southern and warm, but I am unfamiliar with the surroundings, weather, and AQI. It is suburban to Hong Kong and the southern coast of China. I still have to meet with this other school again--I don't want to get stuck in the same situation. I wonder, if I enjoy my job will it make living in Chengdu more bearable? Possibly a little more bearable, but not for more than one year.
And I'm sick of a life that is bearable! I've spent the last --now going on 3 years--living a life that is barely bearable, surviving by chance... I want to thrive!
The answer is to begin a rigorous search and be prepared to leave Chengdu, and possibly China.
There is such a thing as a geographical cure if it cures your health and mood!
...Small actions in a dynamic system will trigger vast and unexpected changes