Why? To be honest, I think it was a direct result of my student teaching experience. It was rough, you guys. It was frustrating and challenging and wonderful and stressful. It was lesson plans every night until midnight and coming home after a full day of teaching and collapsing on my couch. It was physically, emotionally and mentally draining. I was a stress-ball and unfortunately, unloaded a lot of that stress onto Jordan. It wasn't a 40 hour a week job. It was an 80 hour a week job (and an unpaid one at that). Some days I didn't feel like a person. I was functioning on auto-pilot and lots and lots of diet coke. It was kind of like, "Oh, so this is teaching."
And then one day I realized, I don't have to do this. I don't have to work at a job that leaves me feeling depleted after each and every day. No one is forcing me into this. And yet, I felt guilty having this realization. I had just spent years studying to be a top-notch teacher! I had spent countless hours creating lesson plans, interviewing teachers, pin-pointing my teaching philosophy, and for what? To sit at a desk all day in an office? Where's my integrity?
I admit that teaching wasn't all terrible. There were moments that I experienced as a student teacher that I hope I never forget. Like the time that a timid, red-headed 11 year old girl handed me a folded-up note telling me that I was the best teacher she'd ever had. That she had felt like she belonged when in my class and had been noticed. That note just about broke my heart. This little girl had been bullied and rejected by most of her peers. She didn't have many friends and school was a challenge for her. She encapsulated everything that I wanted to be as a teacher and just that one girl made my entire teaching experience worth it. You hear so often as a teacher that the reason you teach is for the one. You accept that you won't reach everyone (which is impossibly difficult to accept), so you work hard to impact just one. Alana was the one I reached and she made the experience entirely worth it.
So why aren't I a teacher then? Was it the stress? Was it that I cared too much for these kids? Sometimes I'm afraid that the real answer is that I didn't think I could handle it. That I didn't believe in myself enough to try and see what happened. I believe that teachers should be excellent, not just good, and what if I wasn't an excellent teacher? What if my best just wasn't good enough? What if, what if, what if?
I think about these things as I sit at my desk in my office. Where I could have been. What I could have accomplished. I'm not saying that my job is anything to be ashamed of or that I'm ungrateful for it. Right now we're at the stage of life where I need to provide for us while Jordan finishes school, and thankfully, this job has provided very well for us. But I also think, what if I had just believed that I could do it? That I had dreamed a little bigger?
I don't think it's the end of the world that I'm not a teacher. I don't believe that I missed my only opportunity to make a difference. But I do want to feel capable. To set worth-while goals and then achieve them. I want to rid myself of self-doubt and insecurities that inhibit me. I want to prove to myself that I can do what I set my mind to. To live life purposefully. Because I have bigger plans in mind than sitting in an office all day. And some day, I'd like to see them happen.