This morning marked my first day of unemployment. Unemployed? What? But I thought you recently started a new job? Yes, I did, 2 months ago, but… Keep reading.
I didn’t sleep in because I had a coffee date planned with a girlfriend. We met at Northside Social – a quaint coffee shop, wine bar, and cafe in Arlington – and I indulged in the fluffiest, foamiest, and sweetest cappuccino that has ever graced my lips. It was pure bliss.
After catching up, I ventured into Georgetown to get my blood drawn. Lately I’ve been feeling more achy than usual, experiencing insomnia, having bad headaches, and whenever I’ve felt like this in the past it was because my blood levels were off. Fingers crossed it’s not anything that some rest can’t fix.
So, about the unemployment tidbit. It’s only through next Tuesday. I think that it would be easiest if we rewound a few years… You may want to get yourself a cup of coffee or wine and a snack because this turned out to be a long post.
In May 2011 I graduated from Boston University with a B.S. in Severe Special Education. Throughout my years at BU, I completed numerous practicums (student teaching) at various schools in the city and the local suburbs. BU’s School of Education requires students to rotate schools every semester so they’re exposed to a variety of settings. Textbooks are rich with information and helpful to plan curriculum, but real world experiences are irreplaceable.
Immediately after graduation I moved back home to Virginia. Ryan had a secure job and was enjoying what he was doing so it didn’t make sense for us to live in Boston (although, I’d love to move back someday). That summer I subbed and went on more than a dozen interviews at the local elementary, middle, and high schools. Even though all of my practicums took place in an elementary setting, I had no clue what grade I wanted to teach and my certification permits me to teach ages 3-21. I ultimately chose to teach in a middle school autism classroom.
Before I knew it, summer was almost over and my days were spent in my new classroom – hanging posters, arranging desks, preparing lessons, organizing materials, etc. – and soon enough, students were walking through the door eager to learn. The students alternated back and forth between my classroom and another classroom across the hall. After about a month, my co-teacher informed me that she was switching schools. She taught special education for a few years, but she had never taught students with severe disabilities and was completely overwhelmed. The only teacher, I suddenly started to feel overwhelmed.
The next few weeks I ran back and forth between classrooms, trying to help the substitutes manage the students and create some sort of fluid curriculum. The situation was less than ideal, but life isn’t always perfect and what happened was out of my control. Thankfully, a full-time teacher was eventually hired and the students got back into a normal routine but I still felt overwhelmed.
It had been less than 6 months since I graduated and I was given the role as lead teacher. I imagine if I had been teaching for a few years it would have been an honor, but as a recent graduate, it was a big role to fill. I attended numerous workshops, IEP meetings of students other than my own, and county-wide conferences where I met teachers who had taught for 10+ years – they always were shocked when I introduced myself and said that I was a first-year teacher. As the school year went on, I began to question myself. Was I really cut out to be a teacher? Did I know enough? What if the students don’t enjoy coming to school? Should it really be this hard? These questions frequently raced through my mind despite all of the positive feedback that I received from my students, fellow teachers, administrators, and my students’ parents.
As winter turned to spring I began thinking of what I wanted to do next year. I enjoyed teaching but was it the right career for me? Should I continue teaching at my current school? Should I switch schools? Or should I take a leap of faith and completely switch careers? That’s when I started thinking… Throughout high school and college I loved planning events, from start to finish, it had always been a passion of mine. Why don’t I become an event planner? Don’t we all want to get paid to do something that we love? It was decided, I was going to change careers. So as the school year wound down, I started looking for a job in the events industry and began taking classes at The George Washington University for Event Management.
The school year ended on a Friday and the following Monday I started my new job. I was an Exhibits Assistant and helped to coordinate a top-100 trade show. It wasn’t my “dream job” (I envisioned myself more of a wedding or large-scale social event planner), but it was a job and beggars can’t be choosers – I didn’t have any prior experience so it was a great opportunity. The association’s trade show was in Philadelphia just 3 days after our wedding so work was always busy, but it was good because it forced me to learn things quickly. After the show, things slowed down and I had a chance to work on new projects that I enjoyed.
A few months later, spring had sprung and I was in the midst of training for the 3 half marathons that I committed myself to running… Note to future self: 3 is a little too ambitious for me, but more power to all of you runners who can do it! The weekend of the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, ZOOMA hosted a meet and greet at Lululemon in Georgetown. Ryan and I swung by and had the opportunity to meet the Race Director who casually mentioned that they were hiring a Marketing & Event Coordinator. After reading through the job description I was interested – marketing, events, social media, planning races – what’s not to like? The interview process took a couple of months but at the end of it I was offered the position and started in August.
One week after I started working we went to Chicago for my first race. It was so exhilarating (and exhausting) to see everything that goes into preparing for race day, everything does not just magically appear! After Chicago I was back in the office working on marketing projects, researching potential partnerships, and connecting with bloggers for the ambassador program. Soon enough it was already September and we went to Jacksonville for a new event, Inspired Yoga + Run, and a couple of weeks later were up to the Cape for another race.
After we got back from the Cape I started thinking about my current position. I enjoyed what I was doing on day-to-day basis but I wasn’t sure that it was the best fit. Over the weekend I brainstormed ideas, spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do, asked for advice and support from my momma and Ryan, and then I made a big decision… I decided that I want to go back to teaching. Event planning always has been and always will be a passion of mine, but so is working out, cooking, watching movies, shopping, and traveling. I’ve realized that there is a difference between a passion and a career and I truly miss teaching.
It wasn’t easy to make the decision to switch from teaching to event planning and it certainly wasn’t easy to make the decision to go back to teaching. I’ve questioned myself and I’ve wondered why I keep switching jobs and why I ever left teaching. That said, knowing myself, I would have always wondered “What if?” if I had never tried event planning. Would I have liked it? Would I have done it for the rest of my life? Not to mention, I have an irrational fear of what others may think of me for changing my mind.
So what’s my plan? Well, it’s all still very new to me too, but I do have a plan. I have no intention of sitting on my butt and wasting away the days. Next Tuesday I’m going to substitute orientation and can start subbing immediately after. I’m going to study and receive my VA Teaching License (I was licensed in MA after graduation and given a provisional license my first year of teaching in VA). I’m going to apply to graduate schools. I’m going to go back to school to get my master’s degree in elementary education. And I’m going to work part time in the event planning industry.
Plans don’t always go as planned. I switched careers once and I’m switching again. I have a plan. And I will find my right fit.