After college, I went into Teach for America as a corps member. I was placed in Chicago, and taught for two years while going to graduate school to become a licensed teacher. It was the hardest two years of my life, by far. For most people who go into TFA, academics had been easy for them. Many came from top tier schools and had impressive resumes. None of us expected to be challenged the way that we were those two years.
During our two years, TFA held countless professional developments and learning opportunities. In all honesty, I was not in the appropriate mental state at the time to take advantage of those. “You want me to think more?” I would say to myself every time I saw a flyer for a meeting. Those two years in the corps were, for the most part, just me trying to keep my head above water. I couldn’t think about the future when I was struggling to get through my day.
Fast forward to today: I left my placement school and work at a great school now. I have time to think and process my experiences now. I have time for friends and family, and for myself. I cry far less. I no longer have to consider if crashing my car in the morning drive in would be worth the potential week off I could get. Kidding (sort of). I am finally in a place where I can think about the future.
I saw a flyer in an alumni e-mail a few months ago. It was for a fellowship that they called the “Work on Purpose Fellowship.”
Do you want to figure out what your purpose in life is? Are you considering a move out of the classroom but have no clue what to do/where to go? COME ON OUT!
My answer to all the questions on the flyer was yes. I applied to the fellowship and got accepted. Yesterday was our first meeting, and I’m excited to dive into it. I am finally at a place in life where I can develop myself, and I am grateful to have opportunities like this – opportunities that I scoffed at months ago.
I walked into the room yesterday. There were binders, tote bags and pens on each of the chairs. I promptly texted a picture of the pens to some friends who had decided against the fellowship and had a seat (teachers are suckers for quality writing utensils). Upon going through the binder, I realized I was the youngest person there, which came as a relief to me. As ridiculous as it sounds, it made me feel better that people who are older and wiser and had more experience on this planet also had the same wonderings about their career path. Maybe I’m not the only person who hasn’t found their true calling yet! (No duh, Jeanette)
Last night was an introduction. We met all the other fellows, who came from all over the country and had all types of experiences, but who all realized that they weren’t quite sure of their purpose. We talked about what we were going to get out of the experience. We discussed the messed up educational landscape of our city and state.
The fellowship will be utilizing a curriculum developed by Echoing Green, which is an organization that promotes thought and idea amongst social entrepreneurs. Head + Heart = Hustle is at the core of the curriculum. This is what I hope to get out of the next few months. Heart: I know what I care about, which is special education reform. Head: I’m not quite sure what skills I have (does the teacher stare count?). My hopes are that when I figure out my skills, I can match it to my heart and its passion, and find work that is fulfilling, impactful and meaningful to me. So here it goes guys! Time to hustle!