Day 132 – A Blank Slate. A New Chapter.
As I cross the days off the calendar and near my final day of work in Oman I get pleas from my co-workers to stay, to change my mind, to continue teaching in Oman.
While I love my co-workers and would jump at the chance to work with them some more, the closer I get to that final day the more satisfied I become with my decision to make it or break it back in the USA.
It’s taken me all my life to get to this point. I’ve spent about 5 years (on and off) in a job that I never wanted to do. That’s 5 years too many in my book. 5 years of struggles, suffering, unhappiness and frustration at having created my own mini hell called ‘my job’.
Of all the things people told me I could do when I was growing up, teaching was the one I wanted to do the least. I saw all the long hard hours my mom put into her beloved teaching position and even though she got fabulous holidays, there weren’t enough holidays in the year to get me marking and grading and report writing my life away.
But then I got lost and I got scared. The next thing I knew I was teaching English as a Second Language.
I really admire all the work teachers do. It is a very difficult job that is under paid and under appreciated. You walk into the classroom and have to leave yourself behind in the hallway if you really want to get your students interacting and present in their learning.
I found it hard to do a job that left so much of me behind. I’m always pretending to be who I’m not. I think at this point I’ve been married to two different people whose names I’m always forgetting. I may have children, but I’m pretty sure I said I didn’t and then had to spend half an hour explaining why a woman of ‘my age’ didn’t have kids, only for my students to look at me as if I had 3 heads. My husbands have lived in their own country for reasons unknown to anyone, including myself. I haven’t worn a wedding ring because my culture doesn’t do that… I could go on, but it’s really not that interesting.
I’ve had to be what other people wanted me to be to get the most out of my students. I’ve had to be the strict disciplinarian who said ‘no’ with a bright smile and ‘sorry, but no’ with an even brighter smile. I’ve had to be cruel, but kind; calm, but angry; happy and motivated all the while wanting to crawl under my covers and disappear forever.
It’s not even that I’m not a good teacher. I’m actually a good teacher. This seems to be part of my problem as it means I’m sought after for jobs in ESL. I just hate teaching and hate who I am when I teach, but it’s always a matter of taking a job I hate to pay the bills over a job I love that would leave me homeless and starving (sound familiar?).
I’m longing to be me. I’m longing to love what I do. I’m longing for the chance to finally explore who I really am in all the ways that I’ve denied myself while tied to a whiteboard in a classroom.
Of course I will miss my students, their kindness, their innocence and the lessons that they’ve taught me along the way. However, I’m excited about the blank slate that is appearing in front of me. I can’t wait till my schedule is my own, when I can be the manager of my own destiny instead of waiting for orders from superiors who have less of an idea of how to do their jobs than the rest of the teaching staff.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to make me a million dollars FAST. It’s not always going to make me happy. I’m not always going to be ecstatic with my choice.
BUT – I know it’s the best choice for me at this stage in my life and I’m grateful for the opportunity to jump at that choice. There’s never a right time to make a move into doing work that you love instead of what you feel you have to. There can more opportune times, of course, but if you’re not careful you’ll turn around and that move you’ve been meaning to make still won’t have happened 5 more years down the line.
Sometimes you just have to recognize the time in your heart that tells you you’re ready to start living rather than working. It’s a time when you choose happiness over wealth and profits in the hope that along the way with enough love for your work those things will fall into place.
So, sorry co-workers! I love you, but it’s time to live. BRING IT ON LIFE!