A few weeks ago, I was asked to write an essay for GOOD magazine‘s Hustlin’ series about why I quit my teaching job to follow my dream of being a freelance writer. Although I had written about it before, I was asked to think about my switch within the larger context of our shifting economy.
If you haven’t noticed, the economy sucks. Although the unemployment rate is slowly coming down, there are still millions of people who are out of work. So, why would anyone in their right mind give up the security of a stable gig for the unstable world of freelancing?
The answer is simple: happiness.
After teaching for five years, I came to the realization that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. And if I’m honest, that realization happened after year one.
My first year in the classroom was both an absolute failure and a thrilling success (teachers, y’all know what I mean). Although I had been a student for upwards of 18 years, and had gone through a great teacher program, I was totally unprepared for the rigors of working with kids. Without rehashing the gory details, let’s just say all the educational theory did not prepare me for a classroom full of seventh graders.
Classroom management? Out the window. Lesson planning? I’d have huge holes in my plans. Managing my time? Wishful thinking at best. I was drowning, and I had to save myself or get swallowed up by the sea.
Somehow, I managed to make it through that year, rest up over the summer and try again. But by Christmas break of my second year, the writing was on the wall: I wanted to do something else.
And yet…I waited. Three more years went by before I finally had enough. In between that time was lots of (secret) tears, frustrations, trips to a therapist, sick days, and finally rediscovering my voice.
Once I shook the fear of “what if I fai?” I was able to clearly see what it was I wanted to do and God began rearranging my life. Just like that.
Once I made up my mind to write full time the ideas began pouring in, people began referring me to their editor friends, and I began to make actually dollars from words.
Looking back I wonder what the hell took me so long, but as the old folks say, everything happens for a reason. I now know that I had to go through the fire to come out polished like gold.
And while everything isn’t all good (money is still sometimes funny), for the first time in years I see a path ahead of me that I actually love. After feeling stuck for so long, it feels good to know that I’m in control of my own destiny.
So, what does that have to do with you?
An interesting thing happens every time I share this story: I always get questions. After the GOOD article was published yesterday, I received tweets and emails asking for advice about how to make the switch. This makes me immensely happy because it means that what I’ve shared has helped someone, and as a writer, that’s ultimately my goal.
Yes, I’d like to be “known” (my name…not my face lol), I want to make money (who doesn’t? I got a kid to feed!), but at the end of the day, I’d also like to be helpful.
“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards
Because I know that by helping others reach their goals I will also also reach my own, please comment, tweet me, Facebook me, or email me if you have any questions. It may take me a few days, but I WILL answer them.
Also, I’ll be putting together a quick video (sort of similar to my vision board vid) with some tips on quitting your job and doing what you love. So if you have specific questions, ask!
Are you thinking about switching careers? What’s holding you back?