One day, while in the midst of my professional career at the moment, I had an epiphany. What was I doing? I mean, really? How did I get here? This is so not what I had envisioned for myself.
Fast-forward to today, and…this is more like it. I mean, if I’m being honest, I didn’t exactly envision the life of blogger for myself either, but I’m content where I’m at and I’m fulfilled, so I know I’m headed in the right direction and am certainly not as lost as I was in that moment not so many years ago.
Getting Swept Up in the Current
I’m not really sure when it happened, that I wound up pursuing an education degree. I always thought I wanted to work with animals and so I started college with a biology degree and the intent to further my education with zoological training post-undergrad. Somewhere along the way I decided that I preferred the educational aspect of zoos, nature centers, and the like. With some influence of professors and others in the education realm, I decided to change my major to secondary education with a field endorsement in natural sciences. The idea would be, of course, that with the educational aspect incorporated I could now pursue a profession such as an Education Curator at a renowned zoo or aquarium. I honestly never envisioned myself as a classroom teacher.
For those of you that are familiar with education programs, the further along you get in your college experience the more intense the educational training becomes. Before I knew it, I was observing classrooms, working at an after-school program, and deciding where exactly I wanted to do my student teaching. Next, I was being handed my degree and I found myself on the receiving end of several pursuing school administrators looking for a science teacher. It seemed like the most obvious next step, to become a classroom teacher. I guess in some ways I got swept up in the current of what most typical education majors earn their degrees for.
Now, I should take a moment to interject that in looking back, I do feel I got a little lost along the way, but I don’t have any real regrets on the path that has brought me to where I am today. God certainly knew what He was doing. For instance, I would have never met my husband had I not changed majors. And we wouldn’t have been able to take our leap of faith in changing our careers down the road had I not taught for fives years to pay down debts and build up savings. And some of my very best friends in this life were formed out of relationships that began where I taught.
The Misery of Un-fulfillment
With that said, feeling stuck in a career that is not fulfilling your purpose is utterly miserable. Now, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way; I really don’t consider myself a cocky person, heck, I even struggle with self-confidence pretty regularly…but, I was good at what I did. I’ve always been good at what I do. It’s part of my type A personality, or how I was brought up to give 110%, but whenever I’m tasked with something I won’t do it half-heartedly. So, even in a career that wasn’t right for me, I worked hard, I put in long hours, and I truly tried to be the best at what I did. And all the while I put a happy face on, so that very few people knew just how miserable I was.
I could play the part, I could say what was expected of me, I could act like I loved teaching…I mean, aren’t all teachers in it because they love it? I thought so, and I couldn’t help but think that something must be wrong with me because I was not happy in this career field. So I kept on teaching, appearing to be enjoying what I did, while feeling completely overwhelmed, overstressed, and unfulfilled. I certainly hadn’t learned to start Choosing Stillness in my life at that point.
Over time I began to sink into a depression, feeling trapped by my career and unable to escape it. My mind would not shut down at the end of the day; I gained weight from emotional eating and pure exhaustion, yet I couldn’t sleep at night; and I’m certain my newlywed husband was getting the brunt end of some pretty major mood swings. I lived for the summer, but since I felt the need to take on additional responsibilities, it was fairly non-existent. It never felt like I had enough time to replenish and prepare for yet another school year. I was burnt out.
During those years, my happiness was found in my husband, we were married by my second year of teaching and we were figuring out life together. Had I not had him by my side I’m not sure how I would have survived those years! He showed me the meaning of unconditional love, offered me constant support, and encouraged me in my faith when I felt like it was slipping away.
It was in this utter unrest that my husband and I began to dream together what we wanted our lives to look like in the future. And neither of us could say that our visions included either of us as classroom teachers. It was time for a change.
I should mention that just because teaching wasn’t for me (or my husband), I do have the utmost respect for those that are teachers, that are good at what they do, and that truly love and share their passion as educators with their students. There are some great ones out there. And teaching is complex, there were several factors that contributed to my unrest, but there were some amazing aspects as well, namely the students. I can’t look back with regret, because it was in these years that I grew as a person, made an impact on young lives, and gathered the courage to reach for my dreams.
For more on this topic and some tips on how you, too, can find the courage to reach for your dreams, check out Part 2 of “How to Walk Away from a Career in Search of Your True Calling.”
Be Still & Know…