I decided on my career when I was eight years old. Because of Mrs. Brown, I knew I was going to be a teacher. I wanted to be just like her. I worked hard to make this reality, but 10 years later when I declared a major, I had a moment of doubt. Journalism was my favorite class my senior year of high school, and I was good at it. When I was asked what I was going to do with my life, journalism had become my answer. Teaching was put on the back burner, something to keep in mind just in case. But I heard that the journalism program was hard to get into. I was filled with self-doubt. I didn’t want to fail, I didn’t want to work so hard for something and not have it come to fruition. Writing that out, the irony is not lost on me.
I went back and forth between journalism and education before I finally decided on English Education.
I got a job right out of college teaching 10th and 11th grade English. I was certain that I had found the place I was going to teach at forever, but budget cuts left me on the street after that first year. I found another job working with a friend from college. I was going to be teaching directly across from her and I was elated to have a colleague and confidant that I could rely on. She taught 9th and 10th grade while I taught 10th and 11th again. But new administration was brought in shortly after the school year began and things quickly went downhill after that. I was miserable at this school, and despite how much I adored my kids, I had become anxious and frustrated with the education system. A few months before the school year ended, I and a dozen other teachers were taken out of our classrooms- mid teaching- to be told we no longer had jobs come the end of the school year.
Heartbroken, I began the long trek back to my 5th-hour class. As I was walking, I was bombarded by students who were “on their way to the bathroom” asking if I was one of the many teachers let go. With tears in my eyes, I choked out the only response I could “we’ll talk about it in class” and we went our own ways.
After two years of teaching, and one traumatic firing, I vowed to never return to education. I was hanging up my teaching certificate and calling it quits.
I didn’t know what else there was to do. One week in May, I escaped the dungeon that became my school and went to paradise. My best friend was getting married in Hawaii and I jumped at the chance to join her and her fiance to be their witness. That week was soul-healing. I didn’t have any answers about my future, but the sadness dissipated with every wave that crashed upon the shore outside of my room.
A month after returning home from that trip, I met my husband. We got engaged and moved a few states away for a promotion. I found part time jobs here and there that I stayed at until I found a better one. I didn’t love anything enough to make it a career. I was stuck and was longing for the day I could just stay at home with my children. After we got married, we found out we were expecting our first child. I had my chance. I let go of my past, emptied the guilt about student loans and debt that weighed me down and threw myself into being a stay at home mother. Nothing else compared.
It was easy and fun and I loved every minute of it until my second child was born and I was thrust into a pit of depression that was debilitating. I lost myself. Life and motherhood became hard and exhausting and painful. I had nothing to fall back on, nothing to make me feel like a human again, nothing to make me remember what joy and happiness and fulfillment felt like. I was angry and bitter.
I found myself in my late 20s fighting this identity crisis that left me paralyzed. For most of my 20s, I wandered around aimlessly, searching for something to come to me and give me a purpose. I searched and longed for anything to make me feel like I was contributing to the world, or at least to my growing family. I wasn’t expecting to peak at 23, to feel lost and intimidated by the world by 24. By 26, I was a mother and the weight of motherhood and having children to raise and teach was crushing. I had failed at so much in my life, I didn’t think I had much to show them or teach them.
Today is my 31st birthday. I look back on the last seven years of my life and, now, I can’t help but laugh. Nothing went the way I had planned or hoped. Dreams were crushed and dreams came true beyond anything I could have hoped for. Things had to fall apart for me to fully realize what it was I wanted in my life- which turned out to be a family. If I hadn’t lost my job the way I did and when I did, I know I wouldn’t have gone to Hawaii. It was in Hawaii that I decided to take control of my life and do something about it when I got back home. And that’s how I met my husband.
There are days I still feel like maybe the best years are behind me, in regards to a career and a purpose outside of motherhood. There are days when I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. When I was 23 and had no idea what the future was going to look like, I lived in fear. I still have no idea what the future is going to look like, but now that is exciting to me. Before I felt like there were no real opportunities or possibilities awaiting me; now I know that everything I want or could dream of is within my reach.