Dreams, backup plans, and a confession

It’s been two months since my last update. Sorry about that. Between finding an apartment, moving ten hours from home, and starting school, it’s been a very hectic two months. I can’t even believe it’s only been two months. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. At the same time, I feel like I’ve just started.

But I’m babbling. I should start at the beginning.

Our apartment is nice. We’re paying way too much for it when I think about what we could have gotten in Georgia for this money, but it’s not horrible, especially since my boyfriend and I are both working full time. We haven’t seen our first paycheck yet, so we’ve been living off brand new credit cards with zero interest until November of next year. Yay credit cards.

The teachers I work with are also nice. Exceptionally nice, actually. My mentor is super helpful, and she always listens when I complain about things and offers advice. She shows me how to do everything I need to do, which is awesome because most of the time I feel silly asking for help. And then there’s the teacher whose room I’m in fourth block. See, I don’t have my own classroom, so I float between three classes. Since I end in this one teacher’s room, I generally stay there while I prepare for the next day. She listens to me and the other new teachers rant about our day, and she offers advice and words of comfort. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

So I like my apartment and my colleagues. I just hate my job. I spend way too many hours thinking of ways I can get myself fired, since I can’t quit because I’m signed with them for a year. I would never actually do something to get fired, but it’s still nice to think about. I’m just not cut out for this. I thought I was, but I’m not. The kids are out of control, and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not fair to the few kids who are actually trying to learn, and I know that. They deserve better. I’m just not sure I’m capable of being better. I’m going to try to write more people up this week, but if that doesn’t work then I don’t know what I’ll do.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t really want to be a teacher. I never did. Whenever someone asked what I planned on doing with an English degree and suggested teaching, I would laugh at them and say no. Hell no. Because I have no patience. I can’t explain anything to anyone. I hate people, especially children. Especially stupid children. So why did I end up as a teacher, you ask? Funny story.

It started in 2010. I graduated a year early from college and returned home, to my parents’ house. I had no job, but I wasn’t concerned yet. I thought I had time. And then I couldn’t find an editing job, mostly because I didn’t know where to look for them. I also couldn’t find a job doing anything else. I applied to gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants, and smoothie shops. I couldn’t find a job. I eventually ended up working for my mother as a school photographer. I made $9 an hour, which works out to about $10,000 a year since it was seasonal work. Not enough to move out on, especially since my boyfriend was in college still and didn’t have a job either. So I stayed with my parents, hating my job and my life because I felt like a failure.

There are several reasons why I started thinking about teaching then. Part of it was because my boyfriend was going to school to be a teacher, and I liked the sound of the classes he was taking. Part of it, a bigger part, was because I was already in schools every day. I figured if I was going to be around kids all the time anyway, I might as well be a teacher, where I’d make more money, have a respectable sounding job, and still have summers and weekends off. Plus I could get my Master’s and still use my English degree. I liked that my first degree wouldn’t be useless, that I could pretend it was just a stepping stone to my new goal. I still didn’t know anything about teaching, but I figured that was what grad school was for.

Except it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. You don’t go to grad school to learn how to be a teacher. You go to grad school to talk about teaching-related issues like standardized testing and the Common Core standards. I learned how to write lesson plans but not how to help children learn when they don’t already know the material and can’t learn by simply taking down notes. I didn’t learn how to manage a classroom. I didn’t learn what to do when I have 15-year-old students who think “sleepy” is a verb and don’t know how to count five or seven syllables in a haiku.

I don’t know how to be a teacher, and my kids are out of control, and I’m losing my mind trying to fix it. I want to be better, but I also just want to curl up in a ball and cry and never go to school again. This wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be a writer. Ever since I was six, I wanted to write for a living, but I knew a I needed a practical goal. So I tried editing. Not novel editing. Just copy editing. I wanted to edit grammar. But I couldn’t do that. And I couldn’t find a job at a coffee shop or anything. So I turned to teaching.

Let me tell you something – teaching should never be a backup plan. This isn’t a job you can do when your heart’s not really in it. Well, I guess for some people it is, but not for me. I started realizing this was the wrong choice last semester. My boyfriend would get all excited when Latin teachers followed him on Twitter. Most of his Twitter feed comes from fellow Latin teachers, actually. Mine isn’t filled with teachers. It’s filled with writers. That’s what I want to do. I thought I could teach to make an income and then write in my spare time, but it turns out I don’t really have that much free time, and what time I do have is spent freaking out and trying to postpone what feels like an inevitable heart attack, stroke, or nervous breakdown.

My chest hurts all the time, like someone of my height/weight (which, trust me, is quite large) is standing on it. Or like there’s a rubber band around it at all times, stopping my lungs and heart from moving properly. My head generally feels like someone’s squeezing it. I’m worried all the time. I haven’t had any fingernails since the move, another sign I’m freaking out. I’ve been eating like crap, worse than usual. I’ve done like 15 minutes of exercise since school started 3 weeks ago. Every single night I have at least one dream that involves school in some way. I wake up at least once a night, sometimes more. I’m tired all the time. I can’t remember the last time I was excited about something. Even this apartment and the cold weather and the Starbucks salted caramel mocha frappuccinos aren’t doing it for me. They make me smile a little, but that’s about it.

Hell, even the thought of NaNo isn’t making me happy. I’m just worried I won’t have time to do it, and I can’t work up any enthusiasm for any of my novel ideas, not even the new one that sounded like so much fun back in early July. It’s like this move and this job has sucked all the joy from my life, and there wasn’t even that much of it to begin with.

So, yeah, that’s been my life for the past two months. I’ve started seriously wondering if I have depression, and at least six Internet tests say that I do, in fact, suffer from severe depression. When my health insurance starts in October, I think I’m going to try talking to someone. I’ve felt like a failure since I graduated college, but it’s just gotten so much worse in the past couple months.

Sorry for the long, depressing blog post. How has everyone else been?

Posted on September 21, 2014, in depression, life, moving, Off Topic, teaching. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. *hug* If you need an ear to complain to, I’m here.

  2. Reading this, it made me ask myself, “Did I write that?” I am going through similar circumstances. I graduated with a degree in English, but I knew that I did not want to teach kids, even though that’s what everyone was telling me to do. I knew it was the wrong career for me. I knew it would make me unhappy, so I know how you are feeling right now. I wish you luck in figuring out your next move, and I hope you find a job that makes you happy.

    • Thanks! For a while, I really had managed to convince myself that this could work, that I could get over all the parts of myself that would make me a crappy teacher. It just didn’t happen.

      I hope you’re having better luck finding a job that makes me happy than I am. Did you already find something?

      • No, I am still looking. I have plans to just find a steady job where I can support myself and write on the side. I’m already going back to school for my Master’s in English Literature as well. It’s not easy being unemployed, but I know things will work out for me eventually. I just have to keep looking.

      • See, that’s what I was looking for. I foolishly thought teaching would be that for me, as I would have weekends and holidays and summers off. When this year is done, I just want a job that will pay my share of the bills while I focus on writing. Best of luck to you! 🙂

      • Best of luck to you, too!

  3. Just came to this post after tweeting you – I’m so sorry you’re feeling down and that teaching isn’t the best path for you. It’s so hard for someone who’s passionate about writing but needs a job; however, seeking professional help or therapy is a great way to go. Maybe after this year you could find another part-time job that will give you more time to write or pursue another path? Keep writing if it makes you feel better: best wishes, and you’re in my thoughts. Also, I’m sure the kids who are trying to learn appreciate your efforts.

    • Thanks! That’s definitely my goal for next year. With my boyfriend still teaching, we should be able to afford to stay where we are if I can find a great part-time job or a decent full-time job. I also really need to look into therapy. I keep meaning to set that up, but that would involve calling people, and I absolutely hate doing that.

  4. Oh my gosh. As someone who’s a bit older than you, please let me say that you sometimes have to go through hideous jobs to eventually get to a better place. And sometimes you can figure out quite a few ways to feed your soul on the side … in my case, I’m vegan, so I also run a Meetup group, give vegan cooking lessons,hold virtual vegan food fund drives, and write a vegan blog. Just hang in there … Ironically, recently I’ve been thinking about getting a teaching degree recently … just to help and hopefully inspire those kids who think sleepy is a verb

    • I definitely need to find more ways to “feed my soul,” as I’m doing a horrible job of it so far. I’m trying to get back into writing, especially now that National Novel Writing Month is coming up. I haven’t felt excited about much lately, but this might be something. I hope teaching ends up being a better choice for you than it is for me! Thanks for the words of encouragement. 🙂

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