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2019: A Year in Review

2019 – damn were you a year. Like everyone else on the planet, there were highs and lows and days that just felt fine. 2019 brought me lessons, laughter and my fair share of tears. 2019 brought me travel and adventure with the people I care about. So before 2019 melts into the other years, I want to reflect on what happened and what I learned.

Travel

If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably understand the role that travel plays in my life. It’s always been important to me, but it’s importance grew during my first two years of teaching. I wasn’t able to find much joy in my day to day life, so I escaped by planning trips. Maybe it’s my vice or my coping mechanism, but honestly, I’m okay with that. 2019 was a travel heavy year for me.

In January, my husband and I wrapped up our road trip through Texas, during which we learned that pick-up trucks take a LOT of gas and that creative pursuits are worth spending time on. This year also brought me to New Orleans with one of my best friends, where I saw my first Banksy piece and binge watched too much Yummy Mummies.

Studio Be in New Orleans
Obligatory beignets in New Orleans

I had two trips out to Denver to see another best friend of mine, one of which had me gambling for the first time (I lost a whole $10). The other trip brought me to New Mexico to see the hot air balloon festival, which absolutely blew my mind.

The hot air balloon festival in New Mexico

For spring break, my husband and I ventured to Italy, where we ate some delicious charcuterie boards, but were overall not that impressed. We did get some dope matching tracksuits and made some pasta from scratch though!

Vintage tracksuits, vintage building (!)
Pasta making classes

During the summer, we traveled to Singapore, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Of those places, New Zealand is the spot that truly took my breath away. As my husband says, cities are cities are cities. New Zealand, however, had nature that we don’t get to see very often.

The black sand beaches of New Zealand
Marina Sand Bay, Singapore
Kawaii photo in Japan

I rounded out the year with a trip to Spain with my mom. It was great to be able to spend quality time with her, especially as I grow older and life gets busier. While we did get on each others nerves, it was a trip that I will hold dear to my heart.

Mama y yo in Barcelona

Work

2019 was the year that I finished my first year of teaching outside of Teach for America. It was the first year I didn’t hate what I did. When I decided to teach for a third year, I was nervous. What if it wasn’t where I was teaching that I hated, but just teaching in general? Thankfully, I discovered that I love teaching. I love working with kids and seeing their excitement when things click for them. I finally can say that I love what I do. I am so grateful for that – how many people can claim the same for their jobs?

My first day of my fourth year

I was unsure if teaching was the right path for me, so I completed a fellowship on career choice this spring. While a lot of paths seem interesting to me, the fellowship reinforced my decision to stay in the classroom, at least for now. It was great for me to be able to have dedicated time and space to really think out my career plan. To be honest, I don’t have much of a “plan” at the moment. All I know is that I am happy teaching right now, so happy I will remain!

The fellowship I was so damn grateful for

2019 was also the year that I bit the bullet and got my real estate license. My husband had been encouraging me to get it for quite some time, and I finally sat down and did the damn thing. Working with real estate on the side allowed me to work skills that I don’t generally have to work while teaching – like talking to adults! While I didn’t do much with it this year, I look forward to what kind of endeavors it brings in the future.

Relationships

The older I get, the more important quality relationships mean to me. This year, my husband and I celebrate four years of marriage and five years of being together. I would say that this year brought us so much closer to one another, through the hard times and the good times. Leaving 2019, I feel more confident than ever in my relationship with my husband and excited to see what the future holds for us and our growing family.

My incredible husband

In terms of friendship, I invested in the relationships that mean the most to me and drew myself back from those that did not bring me joy. The older I get, the more I realize that one or two solid friendships is all I need. If I’m not truly thrilled for a person when good things happen to them, then I know that I can’t be a true friend to them. 2019 is a year that brought me a tight circle whom I truly trust and care about.

Self-Improvement

I worked on myself a lot this year. For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), I felt comfortable in my skin. I attribute a lot of that to hot yoga. One of my friends convinced me to give it another shot and I fell in love. The fact that in one hour, I can sweat, meditate and grow stronger absolutely amazes me. The funnest aspect of yoga is watching myself improve. To see my body move into positions that it previously couldn’t made me think about how incredible the human body truly is. While I’ve had to take a break from hot yoga during the pregnancy, I am excited to head back in 2020!

My happy place
My form isn’t perfect, but damn was I proud of my body

In 2019, I also invested in my health in other ways. I (very casually) took up meditation and mantras, and found peace and relief through acupuncture. My body and mind had gone through quite a lot this year, and I am grateful that I found coping mechanisms to help me rise above it. Listening to and making music helped put my soul at ease. Books helped me get lost when I needed to escape the most. Writing played a role in my self improvement as well. While few people may read this blog, every time I post, I feel relief. Writing makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I hope to do more of it in 2020.

Cupping therapy

Overall, 2019 has been wonderful to me. I had new experiences, both good and bad. I felt low so that I could feel really high. I surrounded myself with people I love. I became a better version of myself. 2020 has a lot of changes in store for me (cough motherhood cough) and I’m excited for it all. But for now, I pay respect to what 2019 brought me. Cheers to 2019, and to 2020 vision.

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Life Lately

Life, Lately – Winter Break Edition

One of my goals for 2020 is to write more. I think I hesitate to write because I want it to be “pretty” – if I don’t have a cute photo to use as the headline, whats the point?! I want to get away from that. I feel better when I write (and ramble). Right now, I just want to do all the things that make me feel better.

As a teacher, we get two weeks off every winter which is glorious and something I count down to from the first day of school. Unfortunately, we go back a few days early this year to make up some of the days that we missed while striking. While I didn’t get my full 16 days off, I did get a nice 12 day break.

Prior to finding out I was pregnant, I had booked a trip to Sweden and Ukraine. I had to cancel that and was disappointed AF. I live to travel. I thought this break would be terribly boring without a trip. To be honest though, it has been exactly what I needed. A period of time to step back and relax. To sleep. To (unfortunately) get sick. To spend time with my family. To watch too much TV.

As I transition into this new role of motherhood that will be arriving in the next five months, I think about how my life will change. I’m sure that after baby is here, 12 days of peace, quiet and no responsibilities will feel like the best damn vacation in the world. So here I am, reflecting on the last two weeks (in picture form of course).

During break, I took care of myself. I had massage appointments (my body has been feeling rough the last few weeks), acupuncture sessions and a few yoga classes. I took walks outside to enjoy this incredible weather we’ve had the last few weeks. I let my body feel something other than pregnancy.

During break, I rediscovered this incredible food combo. I used to buy cut up fruit with chili powder outside of my college dorm often and this brought me back to that period of time. Thankfully, Trader Joes carries a chili lime seasoning that doesn’t have chemicals!

During break, I bravely ventured to Home Depot to buy a few items for my husband. I did not do so well but ya’ll, I tried! On the bright side, I did discover that Goof Off works wonders on your car when it comes to removing paint!

AND I bought this cute Carhartt hat on sale! Who knew Home Depot was so trendy?!

During break, I popped over to Lush and bought a few things. I got some shower melts which I enjoyed and the therapy massage bars that I had read about on pregnancy forums. Not a huge fan of the shower melts, but the therapy bars are incredible! I’ll be continuing to use them throughout this pregnancy!

During break, hubby and I bought a couch! We had held off on purchasing one for years, and had tried other seating arrangements instead (such as a Japanese tatami mat and 2 recliners). We bought this beauty at Costco and are pleased by our decision to follow the mainstream crowd! Movie nights are much comfier now!

During break, I got sick. Being sick while pregnant equals misery, as you aren’t allowed any of the good medicine. What would typically be a 2 day cold turned into a 5 day death bed visit. I ate my weight in pho and binge watched season one of You (which was insanely good, albeit creepy)! While being sick royally sucks, it’s also a good time to slow down, binge on media and take it easy.

While this break wasn’t what I had thought it would be, it was exactly what I needed. I spent quality time with my husband, watched a bunch of movies, relaxed and took time for myself. (Side note: I also think I felt the baby kick for the first time, which was mind blowing). That is my life, lately.

Today In School…

Today, we had an active shooter drill.

Yesterday, there was another school shooting. Another one.

My students handled the drill well. They didn’t question it. They complied. They each quietly left their seats and huddled under the computer tables. Several helped me to lower the blinds and cover the windows with paper. They understand what is happening in the world today.

My students all have disabilities. My students are usually loud, vibrant students. Sometimes, I have trouble with quieting them down during lessons. Several of them have noisy ticks that calm them throughout the day.

During the drill, all thirteen of my students were silent. No ticks were heard, no stifled giggles. It was the quietest I’ve ever had my classroom.

They understand. All students understand. They understand that school shootings are not a rare happening.

That’s all I have to say. Today, the kids will go home and tell their parents “Today in school, we practiced what to do if there’s a shooter.”

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Sparking Joy

I’m Not “Just” a Teacher

It’s bizarre how much of our identity is tied to our profession. Maybe it isn’t so strange – we spend so much of our time at work, getting ready for work and unwinding from work. Work is where people tend to spend most of their days. It makes sense that our self worth is so deeply tied to our jobs.

When it comes to careers, how does one decide on one? What should I do? It’s a question I’ve asked myself often over the past few years. I began to teach right after college through Teach for America. The first two years were brutal. Every day on my drive into work, I would ponder how much time off I would get if I crashed my car. Not just a little crash either – I considered slamming into highway medians at 80 miles per hour. Those two years were rough.

Instead of quitting teaching altogether, I decided to give it a shot in a different building. I started working at a school that I absolutely adore this year. It’s been great – I have an amazing class of kids and far less anxiety than I had the first two years, but I was still asking myself what I should do next.

I’ve thought about it a lot and I realized that I kept saying that I was “just a teacher.” I saw peers leave teaching to become lawyers and doctors. Some went into tech. It made me question why I was still here, “just” teaching.

I’ve made the decision to continue teaching next year. Why? Because teaching is not “just teaching.” Teaching is something I am good at. Teaching allows me to give something to this world. Teaching is where I am meant to be right now.

Throwback to my first day teaching!

Teaching isn’t easy. It’s emotionally draining. The stories that my students bring to the table – often stories of struggle and hardship that no child should ever have to face – weighs on me daily. I worry about them, and for them. Teaching has opened up perspectives that I had never even considered before. Teaching has made me a better human being.

I’ve considered leaving to do something less draining, like work in an office. But the phrase that powered my through my illness during high school continues to come back to me. No rain, no flowers. I blossom where I have struggled, and I do that through teaching.

So this is me, saying that I am a teacher. Not just a teacher. And you know what – I’m pretty damn proud of it.

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Sparking Joy

Don’t Give From Your Cup, Give From Your Saucer

Is your cup half full? Half empty? I want neither. I want a cup that is so full, that it overflows onto the saucer beneath it. With the self-love, respect and energy that overflows, I want to give to others.

I recently heard this quote on a podcast. People always say you can’t give unless you give to yourself first, and I whole heartedly believe that. When I am at my best – excited about life, energized and healthy, I am the best teacher I can be. I am noticeably more excited about the lessons I deliver, and the kids are equally as invested. On days or weeks where something is getting me down, the energy in my classroom mimics that. We don’t get through as much. There are more arguments. Less laughter and less smiles.

The same rings true for the other people in my life. I am a better wife, friend, sister and daughter when my own cup is filled. I have the energy to be all that.

Some would say taking care of yourself first is selfish, but I disagree. How can I care for anyone else if I don’t care for myself first? More importantly, how can I make sure that I am taking care of myself?

I’ve noticed a few things ensure that my personal cup is full. When all of the following are happening, I’m able to spill into my saucer.

I need to be healthy – which means I need to be eating right. I feel my best when my diet consists of lots of vegetables, some meat, some fruit and tons of water. When I move a lot, whether its a lot of walking or consistent gym visits, I have more energy. I need to be sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Which means, I may not have time for late night dinners with friends or conversations past 7pm.

I need to be excited. I need to have things on my radar that invigorate me and thrill me. Personally, that’s usually a trip on the horizon that I can plan for and dream of. It means I’m reading and learning about new things, and having new ideas constantly floating through my head. It means I’m writing about all of it.

I need to be calm. When things are disorganized and chaotic, I am not at my best. My cup lacks. I need to know that my calendar is organized, that my lessons are planned and that my outfits are laid out the night before. I know myself as a person who does not work well under pressure, so I plan for that. Instead of doing a big project all at once, I divide it into manageable chunks.

I need time for myself, as well as for others. I love my husband, my friends and my family. I appreciate the conversations I have with them, and grow from them. One of my favorite parts of the day is the 20 or so minutes before sleep, when my husband and I are in bed chatting. Sometimes about nothing at all, sometimes about something one of us learned. Sometimes we discuss our plans for the future and sometimes we reminisce on what we’ve done so far. When we have these talks, I go to bed with a full heart. Same goes for the discussions I have with others that I love. And while I love conversations, I also need time for myself. In this time, I think. I play music. I read. I energize myself for the conversations I want to have with others.

I need to feel like I am growing, professionally or personally. Preferably both. Right now, I am pursuing my real estate license, which is making me feel like growth is on the horizon, which is helping to fill my cup. Personally, I am searching for hobbies. Hopefully, when the right one comes along, I will feel growth in that department.

When I do all of that, I feel good. I feel energized and ready to give. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself, regardless of what that means for you. Don’t look at someone else’s self-care plan and mimic it exactly. Think about how you feel when you do things in your daily life, and the things that bring you joy, calmness and ideas are the things you should incorporate more.

When you do that, when your cup is so full that it overflows, your saucer will be ready for others.

Question: What do you personally do to fill your cup? How do you know when your cup is overflowing?

Teacher Tangent Tuesday #1

Who doesn’t love alliteration? Three T’s in a row? Hot damn! As you may have picked up from other posts, when I’m not writing this amazing blog, I’m a full time teacher. I started teaching three years ago when I became a corps member for Teach for America in the West side of Chicago, and have continued on until today.

Teaching is hard ya’ll. You have to figure out a way to get content to a room full of kids who don’t really want it. You need to take on the emotional baggage of children who are going through things that no child should ever go through. Some days I want to throw the towel in, but I don’t. There are fun parts about teaching and one of my favorites is the things kids say. I happen to teach in an Autism classroom, so filters are even rarer. So here’s a new series I’m starting, where every Tuesday I’ll be telling you about stuff that goes down in my classroom.

#1. Cat Calling

Okay, so, last week, I got a new student in my class. Yesterday, we were walking in the hallways when I see a girl we don’t know walking past us. The new student screams “hey shorty, you got a boyfriend?”

Keep in mind, he doesn’t know her. He is literally cold cat calling. He then does this with every woman who passes us by. Don’t worry friends – I made sure we had a chat later about how to appropriately talk to women. It is Women’s History Month, so it fit in well with our discussion.

#2. Where Do Babies Come From?

I just realized that most of my stories this week are going to involve my new student. He’s pretty funny, I must admit.

One of the girls in my class asked me if I had children. I said no. She then tells me I should adopt. New kids pipes in “Mrs. M, aren’t you married?” I tell him yes. “Well, I think you guys should just get to it then… I think you guys can figure it out.”

#3. Sweet Notes

One of my kids wrote me this poem. Safe to say, I cried a bit. That is all. (Don’t you worry – we are actively working on both grammar and spelling).

So there ya have it – a little peek into what has kept me amused at work this week. What about your job do you enjoy?

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Five Thangs Friday Sparking Joy

Five Thangs Friday #3

They say it takes a month to make a habit, so does that mean I’m one week away from Five Thang Friday being a habit?!?! This week has been pretty good to me. We’re continuing to settle into our new home and I’m adjusting to this commute (as discussed in a previous post). Read on for five things that have sparked joy/amused/humored me this week!

#1. The honesty of children

I teach 9th and 10th graders in a cluster classroom, which means that we focus more on life skills than academics. Instead of typical homework, I give a sheet out once a week that asks them to read for twenty minutes a day, have a conversation with someone and complete a household chore. When it comes time to collect their homework, I always prepare myself for a chuckle. Last weeks chore was for them to wipe down counters. As you can see from the photo above, they did not enjoy it and they’re not shy about telling you that.

I think the honesty my students have is one of my favorite things about the classroom I teach. Have you ever noticed that when you ask someone how they’re doing they don’t even pause to think before saying “I’m fine”? My students pause, and then let you know EXACTLY how they’re doing and I flipping love it. Side note: proud teacher moment because homegirl above used a complete sentence (we’ll work on punctuation later).

#2. Costco ERRYTHANG

I’m from a Costco family. What on earth does that mean?! My mom has worked for Costco for about fifteen years now, and we are HUGE advocates for Costco. When I was in college, I worked for them as well. 80% of my house has come from Costco, and a good 15% of my conversations are about my latest Costco finds.

Our new home has a pantry (!!!) and we got excited and bought all the clean goodies we could find at Costco. I used to go to Costco about once a week, but now that we have the space to store dry goods, I’m trying out going once a month instead. I’ll let ya’ll know how this goes.

On another note, I’m pretty dang impressed with the amount of goods I can purchase at Costco that fit our dietary needs. We loosely follow the Paleo diet, meaning no dairy (except for goat) and no artificial bull crap. We try to stay away from grains and added sugar as well. It’s so great that I can go to Costco and not only get the basics, but also fun goodies as well – like nut mixes and three brands of kombucha.

#3. This instant bone broth

I’ve been pretty sick this week – which I attribute to poor sleep (I’m that gal who needs a solid 9 hours) and self-induced stress. We found this gem at Costco earlier this week and it has been a lifesaver. It tastes delicious and is clean AF. All you do is mix with hot water and boom – you have yourself a great mug of broth. This is great for work, and I’ll probably be keeping a few in my suitcase for when I travel!

#4. My pseudo work fridge

On the note of being sick, I’ve been trying to keep myself hydrated with all the liquids. At work, I don’t have a fridge in my room but I discovered that my window is wide enough to store my drinks in! I’ve been able to have cold beverages all week and it’s been amazing! I guess this is one perk of cold Chicago winters! Maybe when it’s warm out, I can cook some eggs in the window sill. (If anyone is watching from Shark Tank, feel free to reach out to me for some equity in this brilliant idea).

#5. Early morning breakfasts with a friend

Egg Harbor is a breakfast chain in the Chicagoland area. In high school, when we would get late starts, we would gather there for breakfast. I met one of my best friends from college there this past Friday and had a blast. We met up for a 7:30 breakfast (which my husband thought was a strange hour) and it was glorious. There’s something special about getting up with the sun and meeting a friend for some quality conversation.

So that’s my week in iPhone photos. Hopefully next week has fewer germs! Happy Fridays homies!

Confessions of a Teacher

From 8am to 4pm, I’m a special education teacher. I’ve been a teacher for three years now, and I have a lot of feelings about it. Some days, it’s really flipping hard – usually emotionally, sometimes physically. I’ve also had really easy days. I’ve had days where I’ve left work feeling inspired about what I do, and days where I’m left thinking “What’s the point?”


Some days look like the photo above – messy and chaotic. My first two years, I would cry before, during and after work. Those first two years were spent at a school that I did not feel valued at. I worked in a classroom with students with moderate to severe disabilities, ranging from autism to cerebral palsy. I had no experience with teaching before (my degree was in exercise science), and had come to teaching through Teach for America. I would come in early, stay late and work my butt off on weekends to prepare things for the room that would inevitably be ruined. I can’t blame the kids for that – it was, for many of them, their first experience outside of their parent’s homes. Many had experienced more trauma than most adults experience throughout their lives. Most of them just yearned for attention from somebody, anybody.

How my room looked when it was actually clean

Those first two years I felt more like a babysitter than an educator. A good day was one in which I didn’t have to file an incident report about a student being hurt. A good day was not having a piece of wood furniture thrown at me. A great day was getting through lessons – it didn’t matter how well or how thoroughly. I was working full time and going to school. I hated it, but I stuck through because I had made a commitment and I knew damn well that if I left, those kids would be left without a teacher for the rest of the year. My little sister has been in a similar classroom her whole life, and I knew the impact her teachers had made on her. Regardless of how I felt day to day, I knew my impact on these kids could be powerful.

My sister, who inspired me daily to continue to teach

After those two years, I switched from elementary to high school. I now teach students with similar disabilities, but in grades 9, 10 and 11. The difference is astounding. I leave work with energy now.

I equate teaching elementary school to teaching little humans how to navigate social settings for the first time. “Don’t lick your friends!” “You cannot eat out of the garbage bin!” “Chairs are for sitting, not kicking!”  Teaching high school is more about preparing these students, who are accustomed to the school setting of following preset rules, how to function in the real world. We take trips to grocery stores to compare prices on cereal. We practice calling Best Buy for more information on their sales. We use the computer to search for tickets to basketball games. I rarely raise my voice, and the kids respect me and understand that I am there to help them.

My work now feels more meaningful, not that my work in the past wasn’t. In order to take these field trips and to practice these real world skills, my students had to master how to attend to school. Their elementary and middle school teachers instilled those skills in them, and I recognize and understand how difficult that job was. I’m not sure if teaching is something that I can do in the long term. It drains me, to think about every kid, every day and then do what’s best for all of them. I get emotional when I hear what my students have gone through. Experiencing what it’s like to work in one of the largest school districts has made me aware of problems (that have solutions), which are harming our future generations. Maybe one day, I will be a person who has the solutions to make the system work. For now though, I will continue to be the teacher that my students need. I will continue to advocate for them, listen to them and educate them. Fingers crossed that today is a good day. How can it not be, when I received the note below on Friday?


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Head + Heart = Hustle

Head + Heart = Hustle

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.

A photo from summer training my first year. See all those charts in the back? I’m pretty proud of them.

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.

Up close and personal with one of those charts I stayed up all night drawing

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!

Job Snob and Presidency

I think I might be a job snob. I’ve been called a snob before, but never a job snob. I’m not quite sure how to handle this.

For the entirety of my adult life, I’ve held two jobs – both as a special education teacher. The first school I worked at was the epitome of a living hell. I would cry on my way to work, during my lunch, on the ride back and then a little more at home. I dreaded going to work everyday. The second school, where I currently am, causes far less tears. I have a fun group of kids, a great case manager and the autonomy to teach how I see fit.

I also taught in Israel for a few weeks. Definitely not my calling.

“Is this enough? Am I fulfilled?” I still find myself wondering. Yesterday, I had a pseudo midlife crisis meltdown and cried for two hours about how my professional life is in shambles. “My job doesn’t tick all the boxes,” I cried. I had written a list down at the end of the last school year with attributes my dream job would have. It would have flexible hours, great pay, autonomy and an unlimited supply of LaCroix. On top of that, it would also be aiding in the greater good of the world, challenging me daily and thrill me on the regular. Isn’t that what everyone strives to have in their career?

This got me thinking. When did a job stop being “just a job”? When did good pay, and health insurance become not enough? When did it become something that was expected to fulfill you as well? I think it might be a millennial thing. I worked a summer in a bougie office between my first two years of teaching, and everyone who came through the elevator had the same jokes about retirement. “How many more days for you Sally?” one would ask another. “Ah, you know, 452 and 2 hours,” Sally would reply. My stomach would turn, as I vowed to never be like Sally and gang.

I want a job that I am excited to go to every morning. I enjoy what I do now, sometimes, but it gets monotonous and boring to teach single digit addition on the daily. Am I supposed to get thrill from a career? Is that pretentious of me to desire? My husband made a great point – I want everything that would be found in a fulfilling life in my career. Why can’t I get the checkmarks that go unchecked outside of my job? Why am I insistent that my dream job exists?

I’m in the midst of reading the Michelle Obama book (book number 8 of the year for my self imposed challenge). She apparently had similar feelings when she was a lawyer, and segued into working with the government. She took a pay cut and lost some sweet perks of the job in order to follow her heart. Oh, and then she became the First Lady of our country. So if Michelle Obama can figure it all out, maybe I can too. Maybe if I just finish reading the book (I’m about 44% through), my answer will be there, glowing, highlighted and in bold text, on the last page. Maybe I’ll just run for president. I’m sure they have that unlimited supply of LaCroix that I was asking for. Wishful thinking, amirite?