What Is My Story?

From an early age, I knew that I was bound for education, both fields I dearly loved were steeped in the need for higher education. First, I wanted to be a volcanologist, someone who studies volcanoes because I find them fascinating, even to this day. But I remember watching Jaws early on and the character Matt Hooper (played by the talented Richard Dreyfuss) intrigued me to now end. I distinctly remember thinking, “Wow, this guy really loves sharks. He has a healthy fear of them, but he totally respects them.” I really felt that down in my soul I was going to be a marine biologist. I had tailored my entire high school life around the idea that I would go to university and study marine biology, and become a shark specialist, and advocate for these misunderstood creatures. But life threw me a curveball and my childhood allergy for eating fish and seafood became one much more deadly. I ended up with anaphylaxis, a form of allergy that completely closes off a person’s airway and shuts down their respiratory system. My dreams of becoming a marine biologist were shattered, so I found something else I was good at, but none the less inspired me as well. I went to Cambrian Music of Applied Arts and Technology and began an Advanced Diploma (3 years) in Performance Music. I did not too horribly in school, I started when I was 17, and honestly did not have my priorities straight. I spent more time hanging and fooling around than I did on my studies, and I felt lucky to graduate with my original class. With my diploma under my belt, I had planned on joining the Canadian Armed Forces, the Navy, as a Musician. I had the playing chops, could already march and play at the same time, as I had spent my teenage years in sea cadets, and had faith that I could pass the physical. I did not however, even make it to the medical test when my allergy once again paid me a visit. Not in the sense that I only achieve allergic reactions to certain situations, but that it was going to blockade my attempts to make a life. I remember thinking to myself that the bane of my existence would end up being that I cannot smell fish or seafood without dying, and that everyone I know will love the stupid food. I know that this isn’t the case, but it was enough to stop me from getting into the military. I wanted to join the Navy, not the Army nor the Air Force, even though they both had musicians. So once again, I had to find something else. Thankfully, this realization came to me in my second year at Cambrian, so I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to do.

And I found it, and I loved what I was doing. I got accepted into the Classics program at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, yes, I know, hilarious because of my allergies. My friend Megan used to joke with me that should I die while in St. Johns she would nominate me for the Darwin Award, and I would retort, “Only if fish or the wind and cold killed me.” I hate heavy winds, and the searing cold that came off the North Atlantic in the winter. It is beautiful there, and honestly, I would move back in a heartbeat, but those winters are brutal. While I was there, I decided on completing a double major, my second degree would be in archaeology, as Memorial has an excellent archaeology program. I was doing very well in my degrees, and in the summer between my third and fourth years I went on my field school to a location in the little outport town of Salvage. It was beautiful there, but somehow, I honestly don’t know how I came down with my very first ear infection. I never even had one as a child, at least according to my mother. I battled ear infections for the next few months, with one ear clearing up, and then it moving into the other, back and forth until sometime in October when I ended up so dizzy that I threw up on the street waiting for the bus. After going to the hospital, I was told that the crystals in my ears were out of alignment or something to that effect, and that they couldn’t really do anything for me. It wasn’t until much later that I was finally diagnosed with mild vertigo, something that still affects me to this day. I missed so much class that fall semester of my last year, that I had to withdraw from school all together. It broke my heart to have to ask my father to come and pick me up and bring me home, that I couldn’t finish my degree just yet. December 2011, I felt my world crashing around me, and I thought I’m just going to be one of those millennials who lives with her parents and achieves nothing with her life. I was very depressed for months after moving back home. I didn’t start feeling myself until that following spring when I got my security license and my first job in that field.

I joined a security company that focused on events and bars, and I loved almost every minute of it. I had made friends that I still have even now and helped me to see past the traditional ideas of intelligence. While working for this company, I learned truly that education does not equal intelligence, as many of my co-workers, friends and superiors never had a formal education past high school but had risen to the top of this company and would only continue to rise. I felt honoured to be among them. It was during this time that I had to decide whether I wanted to finish my degree or let it wait unfinished. I believe that if I chose the latter option that it would have been one of my few regrets, and I am glad that I chose to go back, although I probably should have returned to Memorial, where I had only 1 year left to finish. As it was, I wanted to keep my security job, I could work whenever I was available such as holidays, and any time I wanted to come home for a visit, so I opted to stay closer, and went to Laurentian University in Sudbury to complete my degree. Unfortunately, they did not have an archaeology program as such, their archaeology classes were tied in with their anthropology department. They didn’t have an official archaeology degree until my last year there, and my degree took me another three years to complete. While I was in Sudbury this second time around, I worked a few more security jobs: one was at the campus pub, once was with another security company that had the contract for the Sudbury arena and I worked some fairly awesome concerts there, and the other was for a summer at Science North which in my opinion was one of my coolest security  jobs, seconded only be one that will be mentioned soon. But three years down and seven in total, and my Bachelor of Arts, Classics with a minor in Anthropology (technically, although all my classes would have been considered archaeology classes and were a part of that degree when I graduated) was complete. Now what?

I moved back home of course. Isn’t that what all struggling millennials do when they get stuck? Well it wasn’t so much that, as it was I wouldn’t be able to work at the pub anymore (not a student), the science north gig had only been for the summer, and the event company wouldn’t give me the hours, taking on a third job seemed daunting. So yes, I moved home. After that, I started working again with the security company that gave me my start in the business and I dove back into the work, but I needed something else, so I would up with a company who is only in Ontario and started doing condo security. While the hours were ok, I hated it. So much drama in such a small building. So, I began looking for other sites within the company, but it didn’t seem like they wanted to try and help me advance either my own prospects or within their company. So, I thought, screw it, and began looking outside the company. Almost immediately I found one. They were looking for casual guards to work one of their Scarborough sites, and I passed the interviews. I had to do one with the security company, and then one with the client site. That was my first experience with a site interview, and with one as intricate at Teva Canada. While I did my training for Teva, I was still working at the condo, and let’s be honest, I was not as careful as I should have been, and was “caught” working on my training modules for the new company while on the old companies time. Not a mistake I made ever again. That year I had the weekend off of the Brooklin Spring Fair, which the old company ran security for, and I worked that being respected even more than the supervisors, since I had been made a team leader for the original security company a year before and would be doing my supervisor testing this coming summer. After that, I was brought in the office and told that I was being removed from the site (condo), to which I was duly shocked and relieved. They would try find me something else, but I just let myself drop down to casual and once the event season was more or less over in the middle of August (after Boots and Hearts) and I told my supervisor at Teva that I would be available to work full-time as of that week. So, I started a higher paying, more rewarding job as security at Teva Canada, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I started there in May 2016 and do not regret that decision at all. A year later I was made a site supervisor, and by the following February (2018) the security company switched to a new one, and I along with it. During this time, I was growing bored, it happens, and I applied back to school, and got accepted. I was going to Fleming College in the fall of 2018 to start the Museum Management and Curatorship post-graduate certificate. I was visibly excited. I had wanted to work in a museum for years, since I began my classics degree, and I felt like this was going to be my best option. I had also applied for a contract position at the security company Teva was now with, in their head office as a service manager, while the general manager was on maternity leave. Strangely enough, I ended up getting the job. The timing of it was perfect, my contract would be finished in September 2019, so I would try to defer my entry to Fleming until then and gain my management skills first and not after. I felt that this would be one of the best opportunities of my life, and was looking forward to it, even if it did mean driving from Oshawa to Etobicoke every day. I was wrong, so very wrong. This new job brought me nothing but heartache, stress, and depression. Everyday I’d be on the road for over 3 hours, not including if I was doing site visits. I was expected to be available to answer my phone, or cover a shift, or schedule people 24/7, even though there was supposed to be mobile supervisors who were scheduled overnight who were supposed to handle all that. I was run ragged. I was never taught how to properly schedule over 300 guards at around 30 sites, but when I made a mistake (not that I made many) I was seriously chastised for it, not guided and molded to be better. This experience has severely affected how I plan to manage my business, and my eventual staff when Brian and I open out store. I will not tear them down, but build them up.

In November 2018, I was fired from this company on the flimsiest of grounds, but I didn’t fight it. I had no more fight in me. It shocked me and scared me. I had never been fired before. I was terrified of the prospect of being completely unemployed, and I had a lot of time to think about where I went wrong. I got very depressed. I drove Thorn, my stepson, to school and picked him up, I applied for EI, and began applying for jobs, but nothing was panning out. We struggled to pull Christmas together, and Thorn’s birthday is in January so that was stressful as well. I remember being so disgusted with myself, with the company, with everything and I had no idea where to go with my life. The only thing I knew was that I did not want to work for a manager like the one I had at this past company ever again. I wanted to work for myself, and the only way I knew how to do that was to open my own business and be my own boss. Thankfully, this fit in with Brian’s plans, as he had been working towards becoming a marriage minister, someone who could perform legally binding marriages within the province of Ontario and began his Doula certification. Since he was also a Reiki Master Teacher and a skilled tarot and runes reader, we decided to go into business together, where I would run the store front, and he would run the services aspect of the business. That led me to apply to Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology into their Entrepreneurship – Small Business program. I am glad to say that I was accepted into the January intake, and did very well in my first two (with a couple exceptions in the summer semester) semesters and am currently working on building my small business skills. During the winter semester I also decided to run for the Durham College Students Inc. (the student union) elections and was duly elected as the Executive Chairperson and Chief Elected Officer. This has been a wonderful experience and is helping to teach me how to govern over a student body, how to manage people far better than I was doing at my old job, and how to advocate for those less fortunate than myself. I am very grateful for the opportunities given to me, and am blessed that I can continue to grow at Durham College.

Published by Natalie Bartley

I am a 33-year-old Adult Fantasy author in Oshawa, Ontario. I hope one day to open her own Pagan store with her partner. I have been writing for most of my life but have only recently (in the last year) started putting those stories out to the world. My faith as a polytheistic witch leads me to many different storylines that involve the gods around her. My first book, Love and Pain in Zion, was a labour of love and heartbreak, and it took me many years to complete it. I live with my partner and step-son in Oshawa and is also completing my clergy status with the Correllian Nativist Tradition. My husband and I are planning on opening up a New Age/Metaphysical store, where I am running the storefront and he is running the services in the back. Since he is already a licensed interfaith minister and can perform weddings in Ontario, and a Reiki master, we can start offering services soon. I am enrolled in Witch School International as a seminary school of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. I have mostly completed my First Degree clergy status, and am almost finished my Second Degree. Brian and I run a local temple (Temple of the Night) which is a part of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. We are currently the only temple with full temple status in Canada. If you want to help fuel my writing, consider donating to my Ko-fi! https://ko-fi.com/nataliebartley

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