Today was my last day as a teacher. I quit a job that felt comfortable, natural and what I believed to be my purpose in life. What caused this change? Why would I leave what brought me many years of smiles and happiness? In order to chase down a new dream. In order to balance my time for family, friends and passion. In order to give myself fully to a process of self reflection.
I quit my job to fully chase my dream of working for myself. My dream for a while now has been finding a job that allows me to make myself better, make money and do something that brings me happiness. I always believed I’d find this happiness in a job within a school and a classroom filled with small children. I found a small sense happiness in a school because I genuinely love children. Their smiles, the funny things they say, their faces when the lightbulb clicks on, their love and the 1,000 hugs I’d get daily. I did not find happiness in not having my own life outside of teaching. As many people who are teachers or who are married to teachers know, when you are a teacher that is who you are. You are a hermit for nine months of the year because you are devoting every ounce of energy into bettering children. Then, the three months you do have off, you are either working another job, planning the next year, relaxing some but catching up on chores or appointments that you did not have time for or all three at once. When you are a teacher, you lose yourself. You lose your ability to separate from your job. I thought leaving Special Education would give me that back but even working with typical kids in an affluent school, I was a teacher and that is it. Some people love this and are so motivated by the positive outcomes, they spend their entire career loving their job and devoting their life to it. All power to those amazing people because I on the other hand could not. I found passion in my small business in a way that I never could in teaching. I love creating art, expressing myself and making people that live 3,000 miles away from me happy through a simple card. I love setting my own schedule, chasing down goals every month and finding empowerment in myself to have a dream and do everything in my power to make that dream a reality. I understand not everyone has the ability to do this so I feel incredibly blessed to be able to walk this path. But if you are someone out there who is stuck in a work situation that doesn’t bring you happiness or if you have the smallest feeling that your idea could come alive, chase it. For my teachers out there, I love you and I respect you. I’ve been there in the trenches for the last six years and it is hard. Especially now with COVID, my heart goes to each and every one of you. You are under appreciated, underpaid and have the heart of a saint. Thank you for what you do for our children. I hope more people can find the humility to remember all that you do not only for their kids but for the community as a whole.
I quit my job in order to balance my time for family, friends and passion. As a teacher I did not balance well. Like I said before, I made time for everything you could possibly think of when it came to my job, but I never could seem to make time for the people in my life. As I get older I realize the importance of family more and more. My husband and I do not yet have children but I already love them. I do not know who my children are or what their story will be yet, but I already know I would do anything for them. I think the beautiful thing about being a woman and a mother is everyone does it in their own way and they make it work for them. Some women work 9–5, some are the sole income provider, some stay home full time, some work part time and some can miraculously do it all. I think we cannot judge any woman for the way she chooses to raise her kids and we can all have a little bit more grace for one another. I know myself well enough to understand that I cannot work a “normal” job and be there for my kids the way I want to. It would be too much and my family would not benefit from my anxiety and guilt. I can however, work for myself, provide for my family, be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin and friend. I can lead by example and demonstrate the power of a woman with a goal. My goal is to work and provide but be able to be present in my kid’s lives. My goal is to be the best version of myself and live in a calm, nurturing and resilient manner. My goal is to make my life the way I want it. Not all women get this option. Some women want it but cannot. Some women don’t know how to even start on this path or feel too scared to. Trust me, I’m ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED. But as Christy Wright says, “you can still do it scared.” So I’m taking the opportunity, scared and nervous, and running with it. No guilt or shame needed.
I quit my job in order to finally find myself. For many years of my life, I deflected. I deflected compliments and anything that everyone knew to be true except for, of course, myself. If anyone thought I looked cute that day or said they loved my artwork they had to by lying right? I deflected even myself in a sense. I would never let myself be bored, think, be intentional. I always had to be busy. I always had to have the next thing planned and ready to go. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. If I thought for a second I could be a brain surgeon I’d immediately tell myself that was impossible. I always felt as if I was floundering in a huge open ocean and not one life raft was in sight. What kind of life is that? How is that sustainable? Well folks, it’s not. It’s exhausting. It’s not productive. It’s sad. Something had to change and I wasn’t sure what it was. I always figured that if I changed schools, or worked less, I would find myself. I would find what I was meant to do. Every time I made those changes, I was still stuck in the cycle of running away from what made me anxious and deflecting what would make me feel better. Horrible right? Then I found artwork. I found photography. I found long hikes in the mountains. I found calligraphy. I found an outlet that I never thought would bring me happiness. I found my small business. My small business that gives me the grace to take breaks when I need it. My small business that empowers me. My small business that gives me goals to reach for and the ability to praise myself when I reach those goals. My small business that reminds me, there is always something I can do better tomorrow if those goals aren’t met. My small business that allows me to function as a real human being. No more jarring alarms at 5:45 a.m. to remind me it’s time to wake up and work for someone else. No more doing what brings me stress and anxiety. No more cramming in a half assed workout right after an exhausting day at work. No more rushing through my day to get everything done. Instead, I am giving myself permission to work, be happy, provide, take time for myself, smile, laugh, love, enjoy each day, build relationships with the people I love most and most importantly, not feel guilty for following a different path.
To anyone out there who is starting a new life journey. You are so brave. It’s so scary isn’t it? The unknowns the ups and downs that will surely come. But we’re all in it together. We can build each other up and encourage each other. Whatever your reasons are for starting on a new path, I am so happy for you. If you are someone who wants to walk a different road but you are scared, remember, so am I. So is everyone else. Take a breath, get your favorite song playing and take your chance. We all only live once and to regret the things we did not try would be heart breaking. Keep your priorities in perspective, keep your heart open and vulnerable, live sweetly. The rest will follow.