Tricia Morrison is a Jamaican, trained teacher who has been working as an educator for over ten years. She has an MA in childhood studies and children’s rights from the Free University Berlin. Skills in reading, proofreading, and writing have been practised and gained throughout her academic and professional career. Tricia Morrison currently works as an English kindergarten teacher, a transformational educator, and is the founder of Forward NGO in Berlin, Germany.
Why I Wrote the Book ‘Resilience’
December 2017, I became officially unemployed so I decided that I would do freelance English teaching on a part-time basis. This automatically meant that I would be dependent on the German Government Social Assistance System to survive as I would not earn enough money to live off. This situation caused many emotions to engulf me but the most dominant of these emotions was a feeling of entrapment as I had declared myself independent of the social aid system two years previously. Therefore, I felt as if my life was regressing instead of progressing. This predicament forced me to question the very core of my existence.
Why did I leave Jamaica? Why have I studied for so many years? Why do I believe in God? What is the purpose of my life? The truth is I felt frustrated, angry, and pissed. I have always been a ‘good sport’, a model citizen in Jamaica, a good immigrant in Berlin, a hard worker, drug-free, disease free, helpful, hopeful, plus an active and contributing member of my community and society. To top it all off, I have done all that the German system requires in order for a person to become an integrated contributing member of the society. So what was happening and why did I feel stuck? One thing was for sure; I could not remain in a state of frustration and anger. This would have eventually led to a bunch of other negative emotions and complaints, which would definitely not bring assistance or move me forward. So I had to snap myself out of that state.
I had to ask myself some crucial questions that would have led to crucial decisions that would plot the course of my future. Do I accept the hand that life has dealt me? Or do I continue the good old fight of beating the odds that are set up against me? The easiest choice to make in this situation being a Black immigrant, tired, single mother living in Berlin is to accept the present situation. After all, I have a residence permit; and my basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing are being taken care of by the state social care system. I even have a car and can afford to send 40 euros to Jamaica every month and, to top it all off, if I planned really well, I could afford to go on a two-week holiday bi-annually to a destination in Europe, the Caribbean, or even in Africa.
This is great stuff. It definitely sounds like I don’t have a problem. It could even be said that I am just an ungrateful person because many people would be very thankful to be in the position that I am in today. I fully understand this notion and to be precise nothing is wrong with people who are in worse positions and aspiring to get to this level. However, for me this is unacceptable. I cannot just be surviving at this stage of my life, after all the hard work, struggles, victories, and defeats I have experienced. For the past seven years, I have been working hard to fit into the German working class by trying to secure a permanent job contract, but all my efforts have been unsuccessful. After being fired from my last place of employment, it finally dawned on me that it is highly unlikely that I would get a permanent contract that suits my qualifications here in Berlin.
But how have I ended up in this position and what have I done wrong? After finishing six-and-a-half years of college and university education in Jamaica and Berlin, and spending almost two years learning German as a second language; in addition to doing numerous short courses and training, and having worked for five years as a trained teacher in Jamaica and two years as a kindergarten teacher in Berlin; why couldn’t I secure a permanent job in Berlin even though it was being advertised that Berlin was short of kindergarten teachers. It is easy to fall into the trap of blaming and hollering things like, ‘The system is set up for people like me to fail’, ‘It’s a man’s world’, or ‘I should have gone to another country’.
But I simply do not have the energy or the luxury of playing the blame game. My aim was to figure out how to get myself out of this present predicament. Blaming, dwelling on the negatives and wallowing in regret will not push me forward. What or who will cause me to continue on a progressive path? Me, myself, and I. First, I have to come to terms with my present situation. Where am I now and what can I do to move onwards? Why not create my own job? I cannot be silenced. It is against my inner being. I am a teacher; I have to teach whether or not I am given a platform to do so.
I have to remember who I am and what shaped my life principles and morals. Where did I get all the energy and drive to do and achieve all the things that I have done and achieved before? I had to dig deep inside of me to my core self and revive my intrinsic motivation. The truth is I am responsible for the path my life will take. I am no longer a child and I am not being pushed or forced to get out of my present circumstances by any external variable. In short, I am not accountable to anyone. I don’t have a mentor, a life coach, or an empowerment therapist. Therefore, I have to be my own life coach while constantly rehearsing Dr Martin Luther King’s famous quote, ‘If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.’
This is not to say that I don’t have genuinely supportive family members and friends who want me to become successful in life. But I am the most educated one among my siblings and in the community that I grew up in. I am already an overachiever, and due to the fact that I am living in Germany, the bulk of my friends and family members from Jamaica automatically think that I am ‘set’, doing well, and already successful. As for the few close associates that I have in Berlin, everyone is busy with their individual circumstances and trying their best to manage their own life circumstances, which include work, family, spirituality, or lack thereof and social connections. Therefore, becoming the success story that I have always dreamt of when I was a child and keeping my head ‘above the water’ is my own personal fight.
So, confronted with my present situation, I screamed, felt angry, frustrated, hopeless, and did some blaming. But then I smiled and I laughed out loud while affirming to myself, ‘I did not come to Berlin to be a statistic or to live off social aid and feel sorry for myself. After all, I am well-trained by my life experience for this condition, so bring it on.’
I grew up in poverty in the most underprivileged community in Maypen Clarendon, Jamaica, seeing my mother waking up in the wee hours of the morning to go and sell simple produce at the town market in order to provide food and basic necessities for her five children. Many of the young men that I knew growing up have died due to gun violence, and the vast majority of the girls became teenage mothers and high school dropouts. I have been hungry, lied to, cheated on, and was told that I would never achieve any of my dreams. I had to run and hide from gunshots during gang rivalry in the community that I grew up in. I have been abused, told that I would never leave the ghetto, thought that I would never make it to college or study in Germany, among other things that are better left unsaid.
But despite those stumbling blocks, I have lived a good life, fulfilled my childhood dreams of becoming a teacher, improved my economic and social status, travelled to a number of countries, learnt a new language, and met many people from around the globe. In addition, I have gained a vast amount of practical knowledge from studying and living in Berlin. I am a mother, a teacher turned entrepreneur, was married, have a good family, and many friends. Life has been bitter and sweet, but in the midst of defeat there is victory; in despair, there is hope, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. This is my story of resilience; the ability to bounce back and thrive in spite of adverse challenges and situations.
Resilience by Tricia Morrison is available in English, Spanish, and Italian on websites such as Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and Kobo.
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Author : Tricia Morrison