Recently, I quit my job. I was a teacher.
For the last 10 years, I have impressed upon high school students the importance of using proper grammar and projecting their voices on stage. I have lectured about King Henry VIII and all of his wives and hammered home the finer points of drafting an argumentative paper. I have traveled the state of Texas taking students to debate meets and theatre festivals and choir competitions and marching band contests.
And I loved it. My colleagues were (and are) my best friends. My students were (and are) like my personal children.
But I also hated it. Deep down, I was resentful of all the time I spent writing lesson plans and grading papers and traveling every weekend with children who were not actually my own. I had no time for a personal life, much less time to date so I could find someone to have my own children with. While I adored my students, I did not adore the stress and anxiety that came with them.
When I was young and naive, I wanted to be a writer. “I’ll write books!” I told my friends and family. And I really thought I would. I’ve loved words since I learned to read at three years old, since I wrote my first short story in the first grade. I wrote for and edited every literary magazine at every major academic institution I attended. I minored in Business to go along with my Creative Writing major so I could pursue publishing.
But life is life, and instead I became a teacher. And then one day, prepping for the five different classes I was teaching and making plans for an out of town speech tournament while simultaneously planning a rehearsal schedule for the fall musical, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore.
I was ill, constantly. My blood pressure was sky-high. My hair was falling out. I didn’t sleep. I ate sporadically, and when I did, it was quick and easy junk. Teaching was not healthy for me.
I envy those who are able to pull off the teaching gig. I wish that I was one of them. I pretended like I was, for a long time. And I felt guilty and was angry at myself every time I realized I wasn’t. I felt like I had failed and was continuing to fail every time I woke up and wasn’t happy to be going to school. But I would put my head back down and keep on. What else was I going to do?
Well, life is life, and so I started my own business called Review My Paper. Freelance editing. It takes what I love about teaching (digging deep into someone’s writing to make them better) and takes out what I hate (fighting administration for what I knew was right but didn’t align with the latest fad to make us all “better teachers”).
What this all boils down to though is now I have time for myself. I can sleep. I eat better. My blood pressure is slowly working its way down. But most importantly, I have time to write. Because, honestly, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s what I was built to do.
And that’s where I’m at. I have been out of the school for one whole semester, and it is incredibly freeing. But also there are times I wish I could wake up somebody’s trophy wife so I don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage or feeding the dogs.
But, as my former student and really good friend told me, I’d be so bored with that.
So I choose to write…because I’d rather suffer the slings and arrows of my own outrageous fortune, even when it’s scary as crap.
I’m going to try to document it — writing, editing, making a living, dating (maybe??). Mostly to keep myself honest, but maybe you’ll get a kick out of it, too. Oh, and I like to read a lot, so I’ll probably talk about that, too. For my first, and very brief, book chat: Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare (if you couldn’t tell).