One fateful day last week, I decided to check my email (for the 300th time that day) and discovered one from the Ministry of Education, with the subject title ” 2014 BABSc Application”. Ooh! Feeling a not-so-tiny jolt in my chest, I proceeded to read it and…
Just a little background here:
I’d decided to throw in an application to the local teaching college, with lofty hopes of reshaping the pressure cooker system. Way back when my own teacher recommended this career to me, the only response I had was “Yikes!”. Why in the world would I want to teach? I was afraid of teachers for at least 10 years of my school life and I’ve had 13. However, I think I sort of grew up? I could see how a genuine interest in education could really make a difference in a child or adolescent’s life. I wanted to make my students think, of the past and the future, of the world around them. I believe the world is lacking in empathy and I think the reason is because everyone is so focused on the societal perception of success – money, fame and pragmatism. That is why I want to teach, to educate young, impressionable people, to make them think and form their own opinions of the world. I can’t stop them from being ruthless business moguls, but I can help them see things from different perspectives and that, I believe, is what makes people stop to ponder upon their actions. That is what makes a better, less scandalous world.
Before I applied for the full time degree course, I’d wanted to dip my toes back into school life. I signed up for the relief teaching scheme, under a program which allows participants to actually teach and not be mere fillers. However, after weeks of waiting, I received a short, heartless reply: We are not able to offer you a place in our relief teaching scheme at the moment. Please note that all our teachers have good performance, good conduct, yadah yadah yadah…
This time, the email was just as short: Just thank you for your interest and we welcome you to apply again. Bye!
Uh huh. No reason whatsoever. No interview. I had friends from the same cohort who’d snagged interviews. Trying to sound as if I didn’t care, I told my mum. A few hours later, she tried telling me gently that she thought the reason I was rejected was because of my mental illness. I had thought about it, but didn’t and couldn’t believe that a government organisation would practice such discriminatory hiring. However, I came to terms with it and decided that my mum was right.
What about that TV advert on fair workplace policies? That guy in the wheelchair? That pregnant lady? I’m not trying to say that I’m better than these people, but I hope employers are willing to take people with mental illnesses into account when hiring. We are not all delusional and suicidal all the time. Most of us can work and are working and there are people who have had successful careers despite their illness.
I can’t tell you just how terrible I felt when that realisation hit me. I wonder if I can ever eke out a living, being depressed and all. What are my options?