I have been very, very aware that this is a role i have played in life for a very, very long time. Back in the year 2007 – if anyone can remember back then, before the dark times – i was part of an extremely intelligent little cabal of MSc students, residing on the small island of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde, right next to the Marine Research Station there.
This anecdote begins in Egypt, however, when we were informed out Phase 1 exams would be taking place on a certain date in May. Between then and NOW (which is now THEN) we had to finish the Egypt trip, travel to Dale (in Wales), undergo a lecture / research trip, travel and relocate completely to Scotland, then be expected to sit the exams. Ummm yeah you’ve spotted the problem. Where in that hectic time are we supposed to study?
So i wrote an email of complaint to good old Andrew Campbell – our primary lecturer and course-coordinator, and voiced our concerns. And from that moment on i became the go-between for students and lecturers. The ‘student rep’, if you like. It wasn’t a role i rejected. I liked having the ear of the bigwigs and thier respect, and trust.
However, its dark whiplash is that you become the messenger destined to get shot. If one of the other students is unhappy with a compromise, its my fault. I get complained to, i get shouted at. I get told that the ideas / suggestions are unacceptable and unfair. Suddenly, i was the one in the wrong. I was the one being shouted at. Not the architects of the evil. No, just their messenger.
Transport me forwards nearly twenty years and i find myself in the same place. Friendly enough with the managers that i have their ear but not their voice; i can have an opinion but it ultimately contributes only my advice and nothing of any quantifiable mass or structure.
Yet, it seems the norm that the staff like to bestow their own feats of knowledge of how to run a fish farm onto me; how what we do is wrong, and that we’re fighting a losing battle. That we keep making avoidable mistakes and that the shit is going to hit the fan so much now that we may not even make it till the next tide. And this is all burdened onto my shoulders because my job involves some office time, writing reports and obtaining bits of paper so we can legally do things.
But nobody cares how i feel. No-one cares that with all this negativity i go home crying, sitting in the dark at night and wishing the demons would stop grating their souls on my head and turning each night into an unavoidable nightmare. Its crippling me mentally and that in turn is crippling me physically. When was the last time i went for a walk in the sunshine, smelled a rose, or eaten a well prepared meal?
Well. If I’m being honest, i was walking in and around Edinburgh in blazing heat, i probably smelled a rose at some point in those traipses around the countryside looking for bears and… i had a lovely meal when my best friend Mark made me burgers. So I’m being melodramatic.
Sort of. The thing is, i’m still doing the other things. As much as I try and deal with it, every day bar the odd outlier is a struggle.