Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's All About Knowing What You Want

Back in June, when my 6 month contract with Thomson Reuters ended, I found myself facing the frightening fate that a lot of people around the country are facing right now. I found myself unemployed, and that was pretty nerve wracking. On top of that, Jason's long term subbing ended and he found himself unemployed as well. It was less terrifying for us than for a lot of other people, because we had savings to live off of and I was getting unemployment, but the word "Job" was a the top of the priority list. Jason got a temp job with Domino Farms, and that helped a little, but I knew that I really needed to get a job. And then I did. I took a job in August with a company that offered me more money than I've ever made, and suddenly money wasn't as big a worry, which felt better. And yet, it also felt like a failure. I had several interviews for teaching jobs, and nothing came from any of them. Sure, I had a job, but it wasn't doing what I really want to do.

Now, after working in my new cubicle job, doing the thing that's making me a lot more money than I've ever made, I find myself wanting nothing more than to walk into a classroom and take over teaching a bunch of kids. And, it's becoming more and more painfully obvious that the more time I spend in the cubicle, the more likely it is that I won't ever get into that classroom. It's pretty heart breaking. What's worse is that I may be forced to choose between my family and my job. I've said all along that I don't want to pack up and move somewhere out of state just so that I can have a job, I don't want to leave my family, my friends, my niece and nephew, or my life that I've built here. As hard as it is not to be doing the job I've wanted to do for years, I can't say that I lead a bad life. I lead a really beautiful life. I don't want to leave it. So now I have to decide whether I want to be happy in my job, or happy in my personal life, and I have to wonder if the two are really separate entities. Right now I know that living in Ohio for the majority of my week, sitting alone in a hotel room, living out of a suitcase, that's not the life I want. And the travel is temporary, but the feeling I have about being stuck in that cubicle every day isn't. I can't work with my drama students anymore, and I find myself talking about them constantly while at work. I find myself missing those kids almost as much as I miss my family when I'm out of town. I miss the excitement I see in them every time I'm up there, and I even miss the things they do that drive me insane.

When taking all of this into consideration, I have to say the thing I have the hardest time dealing with is hearing people who are doing what they supposedly want to do, and what they claim is their dream and their passion (and some of those people are doing exactly what I wish I could be doing every day) and complaining about it as if it's the biggest hassle, or the worst thing they're doing. I hate seeing countdowns to the weekend, or to vacations from people who claim they're doing what they love. I am definitely not doing what I love, but I don't find myself waking up on Monday and starting the countdown to Friday. Sure, everyone has a bad week every now and again, but some people do this constantly and I sometimes want to say "Then quit and do something else!" When it's people who are teaching, I want to shake them and tell them there are a lot of people out there like me who want to do what they're doing so if they're so miserable, so give it to someone who really wants it. I think that the one thing I've learned from all of my work experiences since leaving my student teaching is that I know exactly what I want and I know exactly where I want to be. I just wish I knew how to get there. But, it doesn't mean I'll stop trying.


Beth S. said...

I can see how frustrating it is to hear people talk about how miserable at their teaching jobs, but sometimes it isn't teaching itself that makes them miserable. Sometimes it's the environment and the people they work with.

I feel blessed to be in a place that I love and so I can obviously be grateful for the job that I have and love working with the kids that I do, but sometimes the environment we're plunked into keeps us from remembering why we got into this career in the first place. No one prepares teachers for the baggage they will have to endure above and beyond teaching children.

And those countdowns to Friday? I look forward to Fridays every week and often find myself saying, "Is it Friday yet?" not because I don't love my job, but because, while immensely satisfying, my job is also exhausting. Yes, I love being in the classroom, but I also love the sweet relief of sleeping in on Saturdays.

Becky said...

To be honest, most of my teacher friends have a lot of "This is what a kid did that was awesome" stories, and a lot of facebook updates about good experiences to balance the frustration.

I don't pretend that I think teaching is all rosy, but what a lot of people forget is that no one's job is all rosy, and a lot of jobs are also exhausting. I know a lot of people doing what they love, and they're working 80 hours a week and I never hear them say "Ugh, I hate Monday!" It's just hard to hear sometimes, especially since I know how badly some people are dying to get into a classroom while other people are talking like it's the worst thing they could be doing. Everyone's job is demanding and exhausting and frustrating, but actually being able to do something you like doing should make it easier to deal with. It did for me when I was working at Borders and facing layoffs every 6 months, so I sort of feel like if you can't find the stuff in the day that makes you happy despite the frustration, then you're doing the wrong thing.

Anonymous said...

Knowing where you want to be is often the easy part. Figuring out how to get there, what it will cost you and making the journey is a different story. In retrospect you'll be surprise to realize how many pieces fell into place when you weren't looking, and happy with where you ended up.

"In the Eighth Square we shall be Queens together, and it's all feasting and fun!... Speak in French when you can't think of the English for a thing- turn out your toes as you walk- and remember who you are." ~ The Red Queen

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you necessarily want advice or feedback on this (I really hate right now when people give me advice about jobs, I kind of want to scream in their face) but I am right there with you. We blame the economy constantly, and I think it is true. It's so hard to find jobs, I've been looking since I moved to Georgia and the only thing I've found is *extremely* part time subbing. And the worst part of getting that sub job was that I had to observe at their school an entire morning. OBSERVE people doing something I have a degree in!!! It was a very frustrating moment.

Ok, I'm starting to ramble and get off topic, but basically I want to say: do not give up. Seriously. If teaching is what makes you feel fulfilled down to your bones never give up on that career. So many teachers now are quitting the occupation for many reasons, and now more than ever our kids need teachers who love what they do. I'm really scared to see what the leaders of tomorrow will be like without good teachers.

I understand doing what you have to right now to get by, but my advice (once again, sorry to give it without you asking!) is to keep one foot in the door with teaching and keep it as your eventual goal. Whether it be tutoring for a few hours a week (once you stop the traveling part of your job) or helping out with a drama production, keep involved with the schools. Eventually, something has to open up. Networking is everything with teaching. Good luck!!