Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Old Dogs

This piece is regarding learning about me, my limits and what is and what is not possible. When you are a baby you cannot talk or write or read. Within five short years you generally can do all three to a basic level. You then learn more and more skills as you get older. I used to believe anyone could do anything if you tried hard enough. Well, I could anyway!

Suffering with dyslexia did not make learning new things easy. However with time and trying different techniques I mastered many things. I learned how to tie my shoe laces, draw pictures, how to measure things, how to make things, my times-tables (well most of them), how to ride a bike, how to use a computer, how to play sports and even speak and understand bits of another language. I learned lots of things that I could not possibly list here.

I grew older I learnt more things in life and throughout education. I learned how to read maps, put up tents, tie knots in my scouting experiences. I also learnt how to drive, how to cook when moving away from home, how to wash my clothes, how to manage my money and cope with living with people I did not know when I went to university. Educationally I will not even start saying all I learnt.

After my university training I did not find it all that difficult to get a job after I learnt what to do at interviews. In work I learned how to take minutes of meetings, manage and create data, talk to important people on the phone, send emails to get things done in a hurry by expressing urgency and also how to prioritise different tasks and keeping everyone happy by communicating what I was doing at all times.

I like to watch game shows on television and listen to them on the radio as I believe my general knowledge is reasonably above average and like to test myself. There are many different formats out there for quizzes but I have always thought Mastermind would be one of the easiest. I am sure if there was something I was interested in enough I am sure I could read all the books, listen any of the connected music and take in all there was to know about a set subject. If I was really interested in it and given enough time I am sure I could learn all there was to a basic subject. I do not know if I am being big headed but I am an optimist and believe if I want to I could do anything!

Up until recently given enough time and support I have not found much I could not do at some basic level and would be convinced that given the correct mind-set and help I would eventually be able to train my brain to achieve it! One thing that gave me slight reason for doubt it I once took a job that to all intents and purposes that was impossible! I tried many ways to get around the problems that I was experiencing and was still making mistakes. Over time, I came to the conclusion that a lot of it was to do with my dyslexia but even so, some of the work I got involved with seemed so inexact that there were no set rules and if there was then they keep changing. The job was impossible but for a while I doubted myself. Plus I feel I was not given the time and support needed to achieve what could have been possible.

When reviewing my role in this previous job I had been informed that the person who did the job before me could not cope with it and struggled under the pressure. For a long time I kept telling myself that I would get the hang of it and get some systems in place to make it easier. Unfortunately the goal posts kept moving and also the pressure. There was time pressure, a pressure of having to do bits of one job and then switching to another quickly but having to maintain focus and real accuracy. The problem was also when being trained for the role it was always been rushed through and I had not a lot of time to digest what I was being taught. I also felt relying on other people and companies to provide me with information was frustrating as they could took a while to get anything done.

After a few frustrating months and many sleepless nights and stress filled days I spoke to the lady in my life about these things. I said that I believed I could do anything when I was younger. I said I believed you could train your brain to do anything. I just thought this job was impossible however not a word I really liked using. She turned round to me and said:
“You are not a spring chicken anymore, and your brain probably doesn’t pick things up as quickly as a teenager anymore”!  She did not in any way call me an old dog however I was reminded of the phase:
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”! I knew what she meant that when you are young your mind is as big a sponge as it can be and I can struggle a lot more now to pick lots of bits up. I was convinced that I would find a way around the issue or fully explain the full extent of the issues I was having and gain some better help or give up.

I tried to speak to my manager to explain all the issues I was having and explain that there was still a lot I was missing and needed support in. I did not want to quit as I had never quit anything in my life and wanted to prove I was not an old dog and could master anything I put my mind towards.

A number of weeks went on and I was still not sleeping very well and struggling with the job. It came to a point when I was looking in the mirror after brushing my teeth at night and it looked like my head was much bigger. I thought that I could not being having a growth spurt at the age I was then. I thought I may have a bit of a growth or a tumour with all my stress. I spoke to my partner about this and she said it was just me losing my hair. It made sense! It was not as bad as a tumour but it was a wakeup call and I realised I was not coping very well. Over the next weekend I realised that I could not cope with the job, the job was impossible and did not want to be so stressed it would make me potentially ill or age before my time. I realised that health and happiness were much more important than my work and career.

I realised that it was not the fact I could not learn new things and it was an impossible job and although I could not do the job fully as it was impossible I did learn that health and happiness that was important.  The next week I quit the job and gave my months notice even though I had no new job to go to. I was so desperate that I would have taken any job. I went to many agencies, the job centre, bought a paper and went online and applied for loads of jobs. After a few interviews and money not being an option I was offered many roles and so had a pick of them.

Several months on now, I am in a steady job, my hair has mostly grown back, and I am happier in my job and this makes my time off much better and healthier. 

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