Hey. *Insert witty acknowledgment of how long it has been since my last post here.*
Collection of hashtags to update you on what’s been happening in my life so far in 2014 (because I know everybody loves hashtags, especially when they are used in great quantity): #returningtoDClife #parttimenanny #parttimewriter #youcompletemesoccer #vicariousconcussion #gettingclosertothebig30 #missedthecherryblossomsAGAINmom #tandembikingtourist #baseballisbestwithdad #concussionsreallysuck #mechanicalbull #ziplining! #lostlivingexampleofwhatcaringis #oxfordcomma #noseriouslyconcussionsaretheworst
And one more that will be the subject of the rest of this post: #majorlifechange
I’ve never been a person with a ton of ambition when it comes to my job; most all of my aspirations in life have revolved around things outside of work. What I am is a planner, and a practical one at that. And when it came to school, I had ambition coming out of my ears. From a fairly young age I was thinking about where I was planning on going to college and what I needed to do in school to get there. As a 13-year-old, I literally sat down and wrote a 4 year plan of the classes I would take in high school to prepare me for college. By my junior year of high school, I was deciding what college major would be most helpful in getting a (paying) job that involved writing in some form. No being an English major working at McDonalds for this girl.
But since I graduated from college my ambitions for my career have been limited to #1: paying my rent and #2: looking forward to going to work at least half of the time. My first job after graduation was the only time I managed to do both at the same time, but it was a temporary gig. Afterwards I proceeded to succeed at #2 but not #1, #1 but not #2, and then #2 but not #1 again. I would say that failing at #2 is worse, except failing at #1 adds a level of stress that tends to dim the happiness of succeeding at #2.
So I’ve been thinking for a while now of switching career gears entirely. I joked that my massive road trip across the country last fall was a walkabout, but it’s actually not that far from the truth to say that I was trying to find myself – or at least the job part of myself. Rhode Island, Cleveland, hometown, Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Arizona, Vegas, San Francisco, Colorado, collegetown: everywhere I went I found amazing people, incredible sights, and awesome adventures…but no career inspiration.
After months of travel, I returned to my hometown to spend Christmas with the family. The holidays came and went and I was getting ready to finally return to my life in DC…still no inspiration. There I was, loading down every inch of my little car with 4.5 months worth of luggage and souvenirs, when up walks the source of inspiration I should have been looking for the whole time.
My dad always puts a lot of thought into what he says. Quite the opposite of a person with no filter, he is very deliberate when he speaks: considering how best to say something, how the other person will interpret it, what they might say in response. He’s very good at this so 95 percent of the time you would never even notice he’s doing it.
Then there are the SUPER IMPORTANT conversations: the ones he’s been thinking about for a while, the ones about the big life things. Those of us who know him well always know when those are coming. You might have already been talking about inconsequential things for a while or he might have just walked up to you; either way you know it’s time to shut up and really listen when you notice The Pause.
The Pause is no ordinary break in the conversation. It has its own aura. One of promise and significance, anticipation and depth. You can hear it, see it, feel it, taste it. This is a silence that is practically shouting.
So back to me trying to cram the last of my suitcases in the trunk. My dad is helping me like the master packer that he is, we might have even been chatting idly about such things as the best route to DC, I can’t remember. Suddenly I notice it: The Pause. I put down the suitcase in my hands and settle in to wait for the big reveal.
To be honest, I’m not even sure of the exact words he used (which is a shame since I’m sure they were chosen with care). Looking back, they all sort of meld into one simple, earth-shattering, life-changing question: “Have you considered becoming a teacher?”
The answer was no, I had never seriously considered it. Months later and I still can’t figure out why that is. Was I too young to see myself taking on the role of the teachers I looked up to? Was I too intimidated by the awesome responsibility? Was I too focused on writing being the main function of my future job? Was I too immature to appreciate the beauty of a pension and paid vacation?
Dad’s timing could not have been more right because suddenly I was in a car for 13 hours with nothing but time to consider my answer. I came to a few realizations pretty quickly: I love school. I love writing. I love reading. I love hanging out with teenagers. I love learning. I love sharing my passions. I love telling stories. I love paid vacation. I love retirement plans.
As the pro list grew and grew, I forced myself to consider the cons: Getting up early – every day. My public speaking skills sometimes fluctuating at the most inopportune times. Horror stories about the hours teachers put in, especially their first year. Students who are committed to hating reading and/or writing. The unknown perils and just how vast a category that could be.
I also wanted to make sure I didn’t just like the idea because my dad suggested it. As you might have noticed, I think pretty highly of my dad and his ideas. Sometimes it’s good for me to remind myself that the man once capitalized Hot Dog in the middle of a sentence for no discernible reason. But thinking back, I realized I had completely rejected several perfectly good pieces of career advice from him in the past. The instant and overwhelming feeling of rightness that had accompanied his teaching suggestion was unique.
That 13 hour car ride was all it took to confirm intellectually what I already felt instinctively: I was going to give teaching a try.