Thursday, May 11, 2017

Job Update!

Hello all! I promised I’d be back soon to fill you in on the other goings-on of my life, but it has definitely been a while. I tried with all my might to hurry back, but life won. Work, wedding planning, and preparing for life after the wedding (finding a job) has proven to be a lot for me. I feel like I’ve been subconsciously waiting to give you big news, and I guess that now is as good of a time as any to share it.

But first, the backstory. There’s always a backstory. (It’s me, of course there is. I will say this one is a little more “raw” than what I usually share, but I felt like I needed to write about it. Bear with me.)

Since November, I’ve been trying my hardest to find myself a good teaching job at a Catholic school down in the Dallas area. That really seemed like a good next step for me after the wedding. I contacted everyone who Thomas’ family suggested or introduced to me who would possibly have leads on open math teaching positions for the coming year. I put in (what felt like) a ridiculous amount of applications. (Okay, it was only about 3-5 in total, but still.) I felt like I knew my professional references’ contact information as well as I did my own. Then came a few interviews, which were carefully orchestrated, since, well, I live 250+ miles away. It’s not like it’d be a quick jaunt up the street for me. Honestly, the interviews were pretty telling. I liked the premise of what I’d be doing, but I was left with a lurking dread of what would be to come if were to be hired by the school in question.

I mean, I get married in the middle of July, I’ll move down to DFW, then no more than two weeks later, I’d start professional development with the school. Maybe I’m just a baby about it, but that sure seemed like a quick turnaround to me. Also, it really stressed me out, because I could picture myself trying to settle into our apartment (which we signed a lease on a few weeks ago…go us!), deal with post-wedding chaos (i.e. trying to change my name), adjust to married life, being incredibly homesick for OK, and on top of all of that, mass planning a bunch of lessons and figuring out a classroom design. Typing all of that truly stressed me out a little. And I know I’m not exaggerating, because that’s literally how everything would play out regardless. That’s simply the life of a teacher.

Nevertheless, I persevered. I kept fighting the good fight, accepting every interview I was invited to, and praying like a crazy woman. I had about all of my friends and family embroiled in a big fight with the heavens trying to get me a teaching job.

You know what happened, I’m sure.

Every interview ended with me feeling very turned-off about the school for some reason or another. Or I didn’t feel qualified enough for the position at hand. Or I didn’t feel like I meshed well with the interviewer (who would eventually be one of my principals, if hired). Or I just flat-out didn’t like the place. Except for one school. I loved it a lot. However, the universe seemed to be conspiring against my plans, because it took that school about 2 months to give me a final answer. I experienced the full gamut of emotions during that 2 month wait. I kept applying and/or interviewing in the meantime.

Last week was when I finally got my long-awaited answer from the school. I didn’t get the job on account of them finding a much more qualified candidate than me. It was a long shot in the first place, but I really thought that I’d get it. To say I was devastated would be the understatement of the month. To make matters worse, I found out in the middle of my planning period, which is right in the middle of the morning, which is right before I’m back to having to be around students for the remainder of the day. I did my best to save face for a bit before eventually having to ask my dear teacher friend across the hall (Aimee) to watch my study hall kiddos so I could go bawl my eyes out in the counselor’s office. I felt like I was a kid again. In good news, I realized that teenagers can actually be fairly compassionate, as many asked if I was alright, and provided me with hugs and words of consolation/encouragement. (It definitely helped to restore my faith in teenagers, just saying.)

The more I thought about the situation, the worse it was for me. My mind kept replaying the initial hurt and shock that I felt upon finding out initially. I went home, crying intermittently during my drive. I came in and collapsed in a heap upon my bed, feeling generally defeated by the day. It was the only job I was even remotely close to wanting, and it wasn’t an option for me anymore. Add typical end-of-year teaching stress to that, and you can, perhaps, have a fair assessment of my mental state at that point. Thomas called, trying to console me, but I wasn’t having much of it. At that point, I wasn’t ready to get over it. By that point, I had really grown weary of hearing all of the multiple platitudes thrown around from lots of well-meaning people. Comments of “It’ll be okay,” “God has a plan,” “Don’t worry,” “It wasn’t meant to be,” punctuated my day. By that point, I knew full well that those were true statements that I needed to take to heart, but I couldn’t. I was done. Truthfully, I felt like a royal failure.  

But it got worse from there. The crying turned into an upset stomach, which eventually turned into what was probably the beginning of a low-key anxiety attack, which culminated with my family having to talk me down from it all. I’m grateful for all they did to help me calm down. They helped me to break down a little of the “why” of the whole situation. They gave me perspective that I needed. They gave me the figurative “slap upside the head” or “glass of water to the face” that I needed to just snap out of my despair. They helped me to realize what God may actually be calling me to do next.

After talking it over with Thomas, we reached a conclusion. I’m not going to teach next year. I’m actually REALLY happy about that. I feel an immense amount of peace about that decision. Here’s what’s on the horizon for me instead!

My initial plan was to work as a substitute teacher, but I wasn’t totally keen on the idea. (Have no fear, God intervened…again.) We reached the conclusion that the time may be approaching for me to start working on a master’s degree, which is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time now. Honestly, the time is right, and we’re childless, which would make it a little easier on us (or at least me) to undertake. Then I realized that there are at least two programs that look fairly promising that will require further research on my part to determine the best fit. I also realized that I’m not 100% certain that either program would be sufficient to do what I want to do with my master’s (teach at the junior college level). Side note: I think they will be, but I’m meeting with one of my old professors soon to further discuss/clarify that. I also realized that I’ve definitely missed the boat to start in August, so the absolute earliest I could begin would be in January. Then we realized that I would be going to college in Texas, and I probably wouldn’t live in the state long enough to qualify for in-state tuition and that in a full-time master’s program (specifically a small program like math education) it might be more difficult to line up courses if I were to start in the spring term as opposed to the fall term.

Okay, there’s obviously a lot of variable factors that could cause us to “what-if” the situation to oblivion. No, these fears aren’t deterring me from pursuing a master’s. Instead, God made up my/our minds for us.

Last weekend, on the heels of the initial news, Thomas was with his family and some of their family friends who homeschool their children. Thomas and his parents were telling them about my current job situation, as their friends were curious. The wife shared that if I were interested, there could be good opportunities for me to tutor students from various homeschool co-ops, with which they’re involved. She said that she’d be more than happy to share my information to the organizations so that I could be added to their tutoring directories. I was so excited to hear about this, because as you may remember, I have a good deal of experience in tutoring! (2.5 years, to be exact…which is more experience than I have with actual teaching…) Even better, tutoring homeschooled students would allow me to have tutoring sessions during the day, instead of having to wait until after school, which was what stopped me from pursuing this avenue in the first place.

At the end of last weekend, Thomas and his family had to make an impromptu stop by their friends’ house to drop off something they’d left behind, which was when the wife proceeded to tell them that she had just seen an online posting from a lady needing a full-time Algebra I and II tutor for her two daughters for next year, but that she needed someone who could work for the whole school year. She sent my information to the lady, who ended up contacting me almost immediately thereafter (on Monday). Since then, we mutually decided that this would be a good arrangement for everyone! What this means is that I’ll look to start grad school in August 2018, and spend the next year working as a full-time tutor at least for this family, and hopefully for many others, too!

I feel an indescribable amount of peace and clarity about this situation. I have a hunch that this is why I didn’t get or like the other jobs. Even better, it’ll really give me the freedom to ease into my new life as a newly married resident of Dallas. What’s more, Thomas is 100% on board with this decision, which makes me even happier. Admittedly, it makes me feel pretty silly about losing my ever-loving mind last week, but, then again, maybe that needed to happen so I could fully reach this point and appreciate it like I do. I spent all of this time hoping and praying to God and every job-searching saint I could think of to find a good job. In my mind, I somehow thought that those prayers were somehow exclusive to me finding a job as a classroom teacher, but obviously that wasn’t what God had in mind. It’s funny how when our will doesn’t align with God’s, we try to fight him to make it work the way we want it. But, try as we might, we always lose. God always wins, which is probably a good thing, because I know I probably would’ve punched my ticket to the insane asylum had I accepted a teaching job down there. I love tutoring a lot, and I think that this could be the best possible outcome.

Who knows, maybe grad school really isn’t in God’s plans for me. Maybe this tutoring gig will be something I do for the rest of my working career. Maybe it won’t. What I’m hoping it will be is an opportunity for me to get comfortable with my new way of life, a chance to take the time I need to carefully discern grad school (because the last thing I want to do is make a rushed decision on that big of an investment), a chance to continue investing in the lives of young people, and an opportunity to foster an appreciation for math in future generations. I’m so, so excited about what’s in store. I’m grateful for this part of my story, and I can’t wait to see where it leads me through the year! Keep praying for me; heaven knows I still need it!