Back at the Beginning: Starting Over

Hello dear reader, if you haven’t noticed, I have been away for a very long time. In fact it has been too long since I have come to this space. Spent the time to write, and to formulate my thoughts into words.

Many of the reasons I haven’t written are because I was in the throws of a mini life crisis. I am sure if you have read any of my blog, you know how unhappy I have been as a teacher. The constant battle between what I know to be right as a professor and what my students believe to be my duty as someone they “pay” to educate me has been difficult. I spent the last 5 months battling what I knew was right, continuing to teach, and what I wanted to do in my deepest heart, quit.

QUIT

It’s a strong word. Being a “quitter” is not something that is looked highly upon in our society. There is a sense of weakness associated with someone who quits. There is failure there. There is the inability to persevere and make things work.

I had been harboring in my heart the deepest desire to quit teaching. I felt like there was nothing there to salvage. My students had raped me of all my compassion, they had taken from me the sense that I was doing something good. I had many conversations with my mom about how no one can “make you” feel any way, but that you allow yourself to be pulled into an emotion. You choose to be happy. You choose to be sad. Well, in this case, my students were constant talking bad about me, to my face! They would argue and fight with me to the point of making me so upset I would get the shakes. It was like nothing I taught them was worth their time or their money.

I broke down over my Christmas holiday, crying to my husband, begging him to let me quit. The thought of returning to teaching was giving me anxiety to the extreme. I couldn’t sleep through the night. I was getting acid reflux from stress. There was no time that felt like it was my own. All my free time was spent responding to nasty emails, working on lessons, re-checking grades for students who claimed there was no way they couldn’t have failed.

Finally, my husband looked at me two weeks into January and asked me, “What do you want to do? Do you want to quit?” And my heart stopped.

Yes! Yes I wanted to quit. I wanted to never have to grade another paper. I never wanted to respond to several emails explaining my grading again. I never wanted to have to read the negative and hateful things students said about me. But now that my freedom was at the edge of my fingertips I began to doubt.

Was I make the right decision? Could we survive with me working at my second desk job only? Would I be able to survive being full time at my second job? The fear paralyzed me. I began to think, “Oh, this time off before Spring semester will reboot you. You are going to be fine. You can survive this. You can teach again.” All the while, I knew that I couldn’t. That there was nothing that was going to make me happy about going back, but I felt a nagging guilt. I felt like my husband and I would not be able to afford me quitting one of my jobs. And the thought of admitting to my parents that I had quit teaching, after pursuing a Master’s degree , would kill them.

There were so many things that were connected to my teaching. I felt like I had to teach. I am in possession of a Master’s in English, therefore I should teach. Why would I go and spend 40 hours a week at a desk job where I answer phones and schedule people and make less money? How could I tell people that was my job now? I was beginning to feel ashamed of my choice. I told my husband I would teach one more semester and then quit if we needed the money. He told me we would do whatever I needed to in order to be happy.

I made it up in my mind. I was going back. I was sad about it. I had made big plans to rejoin my friends at my desk gig. I would make it work. I would force myself to like it on the worst days. And here I was crying again about teaching. As the start of the semester drew closer I was really losing it. I finally told my husband, I can’t, I just can’t go back.

That wonderful man. He took me in his arms, looked at me and told me I could quit. He said quit. Do it if it is right and will make you happy. He said don’t worry about the money, we could make it work.

I stalled on sending my resignation letter in to my department chair, still scared, still waiting for someone to tell me I was making the right decision. Then on a Saturday night 2 weeks before the start of the semester, I sent that email. I quit.

It was the most liberating moment I had in a long time. In the three weeks that have since passed, I have been finding a new rhythm to my life. I now can leave my job when I clock out and I don’t have to take it home. I know there will come a time in the next few month were I am frustrated, angry, and upset. But from where I am standing, it can’t be any worse than the hell I survived teaching.

LIBERATION

That is what I am feeling. That is the joy to my life. I am looking forward to finding the time to blog, cook, take photos and embrace the unknown for me in this moment.

Until next time,

**P. Wintours**

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