On Quitting

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[Image via LET IT BE]

 I quit my  job six weeks ago. I was  a teacher at a well-respected public high school and I quit after only four months of employment. Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to mull over the decision- was it right or was it wrong? Was it an enormous mistake or did it cut my losses in the long run? Before resigning, I lined up another job. And then that job fell through after my last day of work.

The past few weeks have revolved around job-hunting and pursuing leads. To put it lightly, job hunting sucks. Some days I’ll spend two hours on a single application that I may never hear back from. I send pitches to editors and hope they’ll let me write for their publication. Most days, I get multiple rejection letters and second guess my decision. I never dreamed I’d celebrate my 26th birthday without a job. But it happened and I survived.

Even though I can’t say for certain this was a good move, I can’t deny how much I’ve learned from the experience of leaving a job that gave me a level of anxiety I’d never felt before. When I began teaching, I loved it. The days went by quickly and I met a lot of incredibly talented young people who gave me hope for the future of our country. In high school, my dreams revolved around becoming famous and winning a Grammy. I can’t sing. Not even a little bit. These kids want to find a cure for cancer and develop sustainable energy.

After the first two months of teaching, I started having an incessant feeling like I’d forgotten something. I’d wake up every hour thinking I was late for work or find myself going over lesson plans at 3 am when I had to be up in less than two hours. It was exhausting and began to wear on me. I wasn’t myself. I never wanted to do the things I loved anymore. Anything other than taking excessively long naps after school became unbearable.

Teaching is not for me, at least at this point. I wanted to want it. Those four months showed me what the past 25 years couldn’t. Maybe this is the naive millennial part of my brain saying this but quitting was empowering. At first, I was shrouded with the guilt of leaving my students and coworkers stranded in the middle of a school year and embarrassed. I’d always fancied myself a tough(ish) person but found myself unable to cope with the stress of teaching.

I spent the last week at school apologizing profusely to coworkers and my students for wasting their time. Then an older, wiser teacher told me to stop. “Figuring out what you’re meant to do is never a waste of time,” she said. I hadn’t thought of it like that.

Slowly I’ve come to realize that things will be okay. I will find something to enjoy doing on a daily basis. Or at the very least, a job that is tolerable. There are a million little things I’m great at and one day, I hope to focus on those instead of what might have been a failure.

Thanks for taking the time to read my mishmosh of feelings. I feel like we’re better friends now, yes?

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