the lesson I am learning over and over

This isn’t a pretty post where I list solutions in life, but rather I need a place to write.  So, here I am.  I put in my two weeks notice into my job and there have been so many tears.  I’d be lying if I didn’t explain that a large part of my identity comes from my employment and my perceived contribution outside of my home.  

Before I graduated from my graduate degree, the political environment greatly changed my opportunities to work; people are afraid to learn English if they feel they might be deported or they feel anxious to come to a country that they feel is not pro-internationals. When I found my teaching job, I was just very grateful to finally have one!  However, since 2011 I have placed over 1000+ job applications and I’ve learned some common threads in my time being unemployed: this is the lesson I am learning over and over.

I love what I teach and I love whom I teach.  

However, it doesn’t excuse how I have been treated in many past jobs or this one.  For the past year, I’ve largely ignored a lot of issues because it gave me the opportunity to teach.  I’ve learned post-undergrad that most jobs have dysfunction, but I’ve also learned that there is a time when it becomes an inexcusable amount too.  

There have been many jobs that I’ve had that have been a sinking ship from the beginning, but I stayed on because of my contract or because I was afraid to have another line on my resume.  I always thought that my job situations in the past would improve and I usually found without fail they became worse; dysfunction often serves people, it helps control people, and often the metaphorical cement was already dry before I came into the position.  The older I become though, the more I realize that I have to be more loyal to myself rather than to a job.

I’ve become better and better with each teaching job I’ve had, but it doesn’t replace the feeling of inadequacy I have that I won’t have a job again soon.  We planned our vacation to Europe this fall with my employer, but it makes me virtually un-hireable while job hunting in any other teaching situation until November.  I’m also experiencing a lot of guilt that our budget is now tighter before such a trip.

I am floundering a bit in my identity right now and I want to see this optimistically, but I struggle.  However, I know that I want to be the type of person who does not become bitter because of set backs.  I want to cherish my positive memories and cling on to hope that everything always works out the way it should.

A realization and great comfort that I have had is: a teacher is still a teacher even when they don’t have a classroom.

I have no plan B or plan C.  I do, however, have a husband that has been very supportive of me and agreed it was time for me to go.  I have friends who have listened to me.  I have other underdeveloped talents and dreams to focus on even if I am still currently gathering them together to decide where to begin.  I have an opportunity to eradicate the false perception of myself that connects to sources outside of my God, myself, and my marriage.

This life is a classroom, a constant one.  I want this to be more of a season of opportunity than of grief though; this year I said I was going to flourish though and I will.

  • It’s never easy going through such a big change, but you absolutely need to follow your gut, and it sounds like your gut is trying to do a great job of protecting you! What a frustrating situation to be in…I can’t even imagine. I got super lucky with where I taught, but I had a pretty negative experience with the environment where I student taught, so I know that leadership determines a lot, as does the quality of all employees hired. Here’s hoping that in the months ahead, you continue to find joy in your work, whether you are paid for it (like if you take on another job), or not (developing skills and talents on your own). Work can be rewarding, if we’re in the right environment and have the right mindset 🙂

    • I work in a community setting now, but I’ve had more crazy teaching jobs than not. I think teaching Special Education attracts a strange dynamic of people sometimes. Thank you so much for your encouragement, I’m really curious to see what the time coming up looks like and I’m grateful to know that in the end… my ability to have a linear career has little to do with the type of person I am.

  • It’s never easy going through such a big change, but you absolutely need to follow your gut, and it sounds like your gut is trying to do a great job of protecting you! What a frustrating situation to be in…I can’t even imagine. I got super lucky with where I taught, but I had a pretty negative experience with the environment where I student taught, so I know that leadership determines a lot, as does the quality of all employees hired. Here’s hoping that in the months ahead, you continue to find joy in your work, whether you are paid for it (like if you take on another job), or not (developing skills and talents on your own). Work can be rewarding, if we’re in the right environment and have the right mindset 🙂

    • I work in a community setting now, but I’ve had more crazy teaching jobs than not. I think teaching Special Education attracts a strange dynamic of people sometimes. Thank you so much for your encouragement, I’m really curious to see what the time coming up looks like and I’m grateful to know that in the end… my ability to have a linear career has little to do with the type of person I am.

  • Jocelyn Bracken

    My heart breaks for you! I know the feeling of being in a job where you aren’t treated right but you have to stick it out anyways. On top of that, you had a job that you were able to help those who may need it the most. My husband has been involved in immigration clinics this summer and it is so horrible hearing all of the stories of people being afraid to leave their homes because of the immigration policies being enacted. That being said, it sounds like you did the right thing! You stuck up for yourself and refused to let them treat you poorly. And that is So important.

    • The people I work with are seriously just amazing people. I thought it was amazing too because two of my students go to the Portuguese branch here. My students live in so much fear though and they just want the American dream and they’re so willing to work hard for it. I’m realizing though that my quitting won’t quit them from pursuing that, but I hope I can find a new way to try to work with the community.

  • Jocelyn Bracken

    My heart breaks for you! I know the feeling of being in a job where you aren’t treated right but you have to stick it out anyways. On top of that, you had a job that you were able to help those who may need it the most. My husband has been involved in immigration clinics this summer and it is so horrible hearing all of the stories of people being afraid to leave their homes because of the immigration policies being enacted. That being said, it sounds like you did the right thing! You stuck up for yourself and refused to let them treat you poorly. And that is So important.

    • The people I work with are seriously just amazing people. I thought it was amazing too because two of my students go to the Portuguese branch here. My students live in so much fear though and they just want the American dream and they’re so willing to work hard for it. I’m realizing though that my quitting won’t quit them from pursuing that, but I hope I can find a new way to try to work with the community.

  • Ugh, that’s so frustrating. It’s good that you had the courage to leave a toxic environment. <3

    • I love, love, love my students. However, helping and contributing doesn’t have to look like exactly what I am doing right now; I am finding a lot of comfort in that.

  • Ugh, that’s so frustrating. It’s good that you had the courage to leave a toxic environment. <3

    • I love, love, love my students. However, helping and contributing doesn’t have to look like exactly what I am doing right now; I am finding a lot of comfort in that.