My Everest

In two months and…4 days (sorry, had to think about it), I will be 27.
When my Grammy was my age, she had three kids and was running a household.
When my mom was my age, she had me and a law degree.
Some of my friends are buying houses, having kids, and working in jobs they love.

Mom has always told me not to compare myself with others, but it’s hard when I feel like I’m behind those before me and beside me.
In high school, I thought I’d live like Carrie Bradshaw. Seriously. I saw that she could write this (fairly mediocre) column about her life and make enough money to be independent and live in a fabulous apartment all on her own.
She doesn’t need a man! (although she was clingy and completely dependent)
She makes so much money! (although the average writer makes so much less it’s nearly comical)
She is just fabulous! (although she never sees her family, has a pretty horrible group of friends, and is a heavy drinker.)

Blah blah blah, dreams deferred, reality sets in.
It’s not that big of a deal. I still went to college for writing and loved it, and I got to do theatre work too. How awesome is that?

Then I went to graduate school. I flipped a coin between professional writing and education, and education won. I loved grad school. It was challenging, exciting, everything was new, and I was with so many like minded people.

Student teaching was pretty rewarding too. I adored my students, and I had a pretty decent teacher. She later cost me a job when she told a potential employer that I wasn’t a good leader (despite the lovely recommendation letter she’d written for me months before saying how good I was at leading), and I no longer trust her because of this.

Substitute teaching, as anyone with an education degree can tell you, is not great. There’s no guarantee for work, the pay isn’t amazing (hourly, no benefits), you often don’t teach the subject you’re interested in, and students don’t care about a substitute teacher because, well, they’re temporary. I subbed for a while in January and February, and I didn’t care for it too much. In fact, I kind of hated it.

In March, I got my first full-time teaching gig. I was so excited because they offered me the job just 6 hours after my interview! What an amazing sign! Or at least, I thought it was an amazing sign. It turns out another teacher just decided to drop everything and quit, and they needed a replacement days later. They gave me no lesson plans, no curriculum, no instruction or guidance. It was a charter school, and my class sizes were huge too. I loathed it so much. I often left school crying because I knew there was something better out there, but I just couldn’t find it. Then, despite being given a verbal agreement of a job the next school year, they told me I had to interview and was up against over a dozen applicants (many of whom were from other schools/outside the district, which was something they said they wouldn’t do). I left that school in the summer with no future, having only made one teacher friend, who, thankfully, also left.

I was so despondent over the summer. I didn’t work, because I couldn’t find anything that was above minimum wage, and I still had some savings from this job and very kind donations from our wedding in May.

In August, I got a job as an “educational manager” for a before and after school program. I was very excited about this one. I would get to manage people as well as hang out with kids.
This job…this fucking job…was the worst one yet.
First of all, it was hourly. I didn’t make nearly enough money for having a Masters.
Second, the employees I got were TERRIBLE. I mean terrible. They were twice my age, they yelled at the kids, they had serious emotional issues, and one of them came to work regularly smelling like alcohol. I hated it.
I quit and went back to tutoring, which also didn’t work out.

Finally, the job I have now. It’s a good school. The kids are really smart and eager to learn. But, it’s completely temporary. I leave in three weeks, and I’ve missed a fair amount of days from Grammy going into hospice, me getting very sick, and then Grammy passing away less than three weeks ago. So this experience hasn’t been amazing either.

I’ve been in education for 18 months now. 18 months. And I’ve not had one good, stable, well-paying job.
I am so lost and confused with what to do next.
I have many friends going through this exact same thing, some of whom have been teaching for decades. Some of them are staying, some of them are considering leaving forever.

Illinois is a terrible state for education, and Chicago is the worst city in the state for it.
I wish I’d researched this all when I went into grad school. I didn’t.
I don’t regret my grad school decision at all.
But.
What if I don’t want to be a teacher? What if I don’t want to do this dance for another 18 months, maybe even longer?
There are no full time teaching jobs for March-June, and the next round of jobs don’t start until August.
As a teacher who wouldn’t have a salary over the summer, that means I’d have to find another filler job and explain to another employer why my job history is so broken up and lacks consistency.
I’d still be hourly somewhere, and I’d still have to pay for my own benefits.

I feel like I should just go to a career counselor and say, “look, here are my interests, and here is my realistic expectation for salary. Help me.”
Here are my interests, by the way:
-Teaching (but not the appalling and exhausting bureaucracy that comes with it)
-Yoga
-Writing
-Photography and editing
-Animals and the environment
-Women’s rights
-Theatre
-Queer rights
-Being outside
-Talking to lots of people, but also having my own independent work

Maybe I should be a(n)… yoga teacher
zoo keeper
copywriter or technical writer
advocate
park ranger
playwright
photographer
landscaper

I don’t know.
I have the components to make me happy, but not the outlet.
I have many, many skills, but a shoddy looking resume that leaves people asking, “so…why so many jobs in such a short time?”
I have goals, but too many roadblocks.
Dammit.
I wish I had Grammy to talk to.

My Everest:
To find a job that makes me happy, keeps me financially secure, and challenges me.
It doesn’t even have to be in a field I’ve worked in before! Just something, anything! Please!

I’m just very lost right now, and I wish I knew what path to take.

cute-manatee5 (1)
Jimmy and I are coming back in our next lives as manatees in federally protected waters. That’ll be our kid, Mannifred.

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2 comments

  1. Jenn Chen (@jennifer_chen) · February 17, 2015

    What about freelancing in copywriting and photography, while taking steps to become a yoga teacher? Or tutoring?

  2. Kelley Romero · April 3, 2015

    I can so completely relate! I too have a masters degree in education and taught for awhile but became disillusioned with the beauracracy of it all. I love yoga (I do Bikram) and thought of becoming an instructor!! My real love, though, is writing! If I could turn back time I would have definitely pursued a writing career! I’m 15 years older than you are. Who knows, maybe it’s not too late !😊

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