I knew when I was leaving on vacation that I would be returning home at a professional crossroads and searching for a career change. Out of loyalty to my coworkers whom I consider good friends, I had held out for years in an otherwise abysmal working environment. Then I came back from vacation, and a woman (whom I’ve already written about) executed a coup d’état. My supervisor and one of my best friends lost her job. This other woman would be my supervisor. I felt such overwhelming panic at the thought of working directly for her that I knew I wouldn’t have any other option but to pull the trigger, provide notice without another job lined up, and dive headlong into the job search. To no avail, I tried talking to the director about alternatives. Now, I find myself at professional crossroads and feeling rather rudderless.
I have worked in education for most of my life, including the jobs I held as an undergraduate. I’ve always tutored or mentored in whichever job I’ve been in. I’m happiest mentoring people and seeing them grow and being silly with them. Still, I know exactly how hard teaching jobs can be. Having taught in a high school and being married to my teacher husband, I have a rather first-hand view of how draining, exhausting, and demoralizing it can be. Of course, there’s the flip side: the growth, the dynamism, the breakthroughs. That’s why we become teachers. To mentor. To effect growth. We quit teaching because we burn out, have few supports with too much to do, and straight-up get thrown under the school bus.
Nor am I particularly certain about staying in the career I’ve been in the last several years and in which I have developed competency. While I am good at the job, it doesn’t fill me with any kind of joy. Sometimes I feel satisfied, and that’s the best I’ve been able to hope for: work didn’t explode, and I feel satisfied with what I accomplished today. I want more than occasional blips of satisfaction. I want to be fulfilled and feel like I’m pursuing something meaningful to me. The problem, of course, is that I’m not certain what that career is.
On the one hand, I’d love to stay at home and write, write, write and grow, grow, grow as I’ve never had time to do before. On the other, I know what’s in our reasonably health emergency fund, and I cannot go without health insurance. Saving for retirement would be nice too. Our budget on a teacher’s salary, even with our purposefully small footprint and lifestyle, would be razor thin. That’s not realistic.
Nor is it realistic for me to pay for graduate school in Latin without a job with a decent paycheck. We’re still paying off our educational expenses; I cannot go into more debt for school. Alas, requesting funding via a graduate-teaching position basically needs done this week, and I’m not ready to commit myself for an entire year to any one course of action. Still, I feel the siren song of an M.A. in Latin literature. I could pursue my interests in readability and Latin pedagogy potentially as a Ph.D. project in curriculum. But what does that get me beyond personal edification? An adjunct position with no benefits.
I have so many interests and hobbies that I love, but I’m not sure how to use any to pick a particular route at this professional crossroads. My last day is the end of the month, and I’m ready to be gone. I’m not ready, though, to lose my Latin M.A. nor all the garden-expansion plans we had this year. Still, needs must and all that.
I’ve never been quite so much at this type of professional crossroads before. I’ve usually had more direction. While I do some soul searching, I will be working as a substitute in my husband’s school district. He is already somewhat gleefully planning to take days off of work. I’ll also be working for VIPKid. I taught my first student this morning, and I got to be silly and goofy and patient and encouraging. I enjoyed it immensely. Honestly, how often do you earn money snorting like a pig? Still, neither job has benefits or pays anything comparable to what I used to make. It is, however, something to tide us over while I stare at maps and road signs and try to pick a destination.