I’ve been using the terms career break and career change interchangeably for the past ten months for one simple reason–I wasn’t sure if this year would be a break or the beginning of a change. By now I’m sure you are all well aware that I was planning and hoping for it to be a change. Well, as of about ten minutes ago, the verdict is in: it was a break.
The Human Resources office at my district sent me a letter about a week ago, asking me for a decision as to whether I was coming back or not. They needed to know by May 1st–four days from now. Understandably, I was putting the decision off. And so, also understandably, they called me to request a decision more assertively. And there was literally nothing else I could say other than yes, I will be back.
And then I cried.
I feel it is appropriate, given that I live my whole life publicly via my several blogs, that I openly and honestly address why I am so upset about this. First I’ll deal with what’s not bothering me.
I’m not sitting here upset because I have to go back to a job that I feel is so, so awful. To all of my teacher friends–I’m not that terrible of a person and I don’t hate teaching that much. Yes, I’ve become frustrated with the teaching profession for many of the same reasons most of you are frustrated. And yes, this is possibly the worst time in the history of our nation to be a public school teacher. Strike that–it is the worst time. But I did love my job–once. So I imagine that it is possible that I will love it again.
I’m also not upset because I’m once again picturing my life stretching out before me, unchanged and unexciting–which is how I felt midway through last school year. I took this year off, and I will do it again. Next time I won’t be coming back–but for now, I have to. For at least one more year. And the fact that my time as a teacher does have a time limit makes me feel a little better.
Finally, I’m not sad that I have to go back to work–to any work. I’m sick of being at home. I miss having coworkers, I miss having a reason to get dressed in the morning, and I miss having a reason to look forward to the weekend.
I am sad because I failed. Plain and simple. I completely, totally failed. I gave myself the gift of an entire year of existance to make a better life for myself, and I could not do it. I did not find a way to combine what I love to do with making money–hell, I didn’t even manage to combine what I sort of like doing with making money. I did not find another job. I tried–believe me, I tried–I’ve probably applied for three dozen jobs in the past few months, and I’ve heard back from exactly two. And both of them said thanks but no thanks. Via form email.
Worse, I did not finish my book. It’s almost done. But I fell out of love with it and haven’t worked on it in months–possibly because I’ve been spending so much time looking for another job. But to be honest, it would take me one week–one five day work week–to totally finish drafting it. But I just don’t do it. I apply for jobs, I take trips, I go for runs–but I don’t work on my book. It’s like I can’t for some reason that I don’t understand. I’d even go so far to say I’ve completely given up on it. Which makes me almost more sad than anything. Almost.
But more than sad, more than frustrated, I am ashamed. So very, very ashamed. I have failed. And I imagine myself walking back into school in September and having people look at me and whisper mean things. Guess her book was a failure, huh? Guess she didn’t find anything better. Guess she isn’t as great as she thought she was.
And those whispers will be completely accurate. So feel free to whisper them. But know that I agree with you. That doesn’t make it better–but I just wanted everyone to know that yes, I’m as ashamed as I should be.
Of course, this is not to say that I regret having taken this year off. It was a freaking fabulous year, and it will continue to be fabulous for the next three and a half months. Hell–I’m going to California for a week and a half in four days. That’s pretty exciting–and I refuse to let this cast a shadow over all that I have yet to do. And I promise at some point I will write a post about how many great things I got to do because of this year, and all the ways that it changed me for the better. Because it did. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not still ashamed. I am, and I will be likely forever. I just thought you, dear reader, should know that.
Please note: Despite the fact that I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon–the time when, once upon a time, was happy hour in my world–this post was written without the aid of any alcohol. Trust me–if I’d had a few glasses of wine before writing it, it would be even more depressing.