Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where the hell I've been

Uhh. I spent last summer in a training program, part of a new alternate route to teacher certification.  It was challenging but I really liked working with the kids, who were at the older end of the elementary range.

Then I had the extraordinary luck of getting a position, teaching the very youngest elementary students.  In what is really a very good school.  And it was rough. There were wonderful moments, and the first year of teaching is supposed to be very difficult.  But still. Rough.  Nonetheless, I got through the year.  All signs indicated I would be earning my certification and moving on to my second year of teaching with that boulder lifted.

Summer started and it took me a while to get used to it.  You spend the last two months of the year going 90 miles an hour, and then BOOM--you hit the wall, turn in your keys, and go home, and all that adrenaline has nowhere to go.  During the year I didn't enjoy time off.  I was so resentful of the massive amount of shit I had to do that I would refuse to do it until the last minute, and so tired and grumpy that I didn't do anything really satisfying instead.  The summer began much the same way:  having assigned myself 50 million zillion "projects,"  I immediately began procrastinating and feeling bad about those.  But after a couple weeks, I had gotten a little bit accomplished, and I was starting to feel grateful for the time, and even a tiny bit excited about next year.  It would be different, I kept telling myself.  I went to TarJAY for the first time in ages and bought myself a nice folder to keep my projects in, some Sesame Street stickers, a Bert and Ernie pirate book for next year (because I love Bert and Ernie, and the kids love pirates).  I took a somewhat credible online quiz that told me I'm a right-brainer, which I took to mean that the law thing probably wouldn't have worked out anyway and that I was really meant to be a teacher.  Things were looking up, in other words.

And then I got the bad news, which is really not all that big a deal:  I'm just not done.  I still have my job, I'm just not certified yet, so I'll still be in the program next year.  There's no point in speculating or disaster-cising about what it will be like, because we haven't been told anything.  I know it will cost still more money, and I'll have busywork to do, and multiple layers of observation, evaluation, "next steps," and follow-up.  Even so, it probably won't be as big a pain in the ass as it was this year.

And instead of getting on with my life, I've been hardcore moping since I got the stupid email. I've been reliving every bad thing about teaching, every uncomfortable moment of training.  I've been thinking about how much I hated it, about spamming law firms with my resume, about how next year is going to be even more uncomfortable than before because they've already decided I suck.  I messed up with someone very important on the very last day of school and it keeps replaying over and over again.  I apologized and she was extremely gracious about it but I can't believe it.  I'm convinced that I'm doomed and that the only reason my principal didn't just fire me outright was because it must be a bigger pain in the ass to do that than deal with me again.

To put it concisely, I already felt like I failed at law.  Now it feels like I've failed at teaching, too. Neither of those things are true, but that's how it feels, and given how much debt I went into to become a lawyer, and what I've endured becoming a teacher, it just HURTS.

I take this career crap especially hard.  Sometimes I think I left the best job I will ever have to go to law school, and since then I have struggled hard to even hold onto work, let alone do well at it.  Also, both my parents did something that is impossible nowadays:  they got good jobs and stayed at the same employers for more than thirty years.  Their jobs came first because that was how they took care of us.  If the cars broke down, it was a very big deal because that's how they got to work.  

And that's what I thought work was.  I thought that you are nothing if you don't have the sort of work that consumes you.  So when I've struggled, I've thought the very worst.  If I go on an interview and don't get hired, I must have said the wrong thing.  If I get bad feedback about anything at work--and this year, that was pretty much daily--I assume it's time to pack my things.

I no longer think there is any one career that we are "meant" to do. It just happens that you fall into doing something you enjoy and are good at.  Or, more likely, you don't, and then work is what you do, but not what you love.  And maybe that's healthier.