The Guts to Get Out by Deidra Dallas

I meant to post this on Saturday, but then this happened:

All is mostly well. Several homes were lost (not mine, just to be clear), the baseball field is destroyed, and there was some damage to the track and a whole bunch of junk blown around. No serious injuries and no deaths, so we escaped relatively unscathed. Still scary and life changing for people near and dear to me though.

So because of that, graduation got moved to Sunday and then the older brother flew back home Sunday and then best friend and I decided to be healthy and do some exercising and then I had to watch the Game of Thrones finale so the Internet wouldn’t ruin it for me and then I sang at the junior high awards assembly and then… well, a few days late is better than I’ve been doing, so I’m gonna take it.

But anyway, read this knowing it should have been posted Saturday.

Today is the day I had the guts to get out.

Today marks the official one year anniversary of resigning my position as a teacher. Or to quote my best friend’s mother-in-law, today is the day I had the guts to get out. It has been a year that has felt simultaneously as if it contained about 15 years in one and also as if it was maybe just the longest month of my life. Everything has changed and yet nothing feels different. It is an extraordinarily exhilarating and confusing feeling.

I have been asked by many people if I regret leaving. I always laugh and cut them off before they can even finish the question. No. Never.

There have been moments I have missed it. Watching the kids I’ve known since they were little bitty perform in their last ever musical or One Act Play, I shed a few tears, I’ll admit. (I’m sorry, daughter of mine, for sobbing on your shoulder that one time, and thank you for letting me.) However, I do not regret my decision to leave.

Over the last year, I have changed more than just my profession, though, and so I thought I’d share some other things that have changed or that I’ve learned about myself in the last 12 months because who doesn’t love a list?

Top 12 Things that Have Changed in the Last 12 Months

  1. I can admit that I was depressed (sometimes still am because depression doesn’t just go away) and that I have at least a mild case of anxiety. It has lessened since I removed myself from situations that caused it to flare up.

  2. I am not angry as often. I am not stressed. I can breathe freely. Seriously -- I don’t hyperventilate anymore and I haven’t had a panic attack in months.

  3. I am not afraid to be with my own thoughts anymore. I no longer need to drown myself out with Netflix. I can read (something I hadn’t done in awhile) or, more importantly, I can just sit and think. There is power in just sitting and thinking.

  4. I don’t drink as much as I used to, and I eat better. My body is not 100% yet, but it’s getting there. I knew that mental and physical health were tied together, but I never really knew until now because now I actually want to take care of myself -- I have a craving for it.

  5. I’ve stopped involving myself in drama and with dramatic people because I don’t need the distraction of their lives anymore. (I also don’t see teenagers on a daily basis, which helps, love them as I do. And I deleted Snapchat. I highly recommend deleting Snapchat.)

  6. I’ve learned and am still learning to say “No,” even to my own family, which is hard. So incredibly hard. But I’m done with obligation, and it is definitely okay to say no.

  7. I cry more easily because I’m not bottling everything up anymore. Movies, TV shows, books, plays -- they make me sob. In public. A lot.

  8. I love traveling alone. I also like traveling with my dad and with my older brother and with the rest of our family. Traveling is no longer an escape from life, it is a driving force in my life. I am working towards visiting all 50 states. I’m over halfway there.

  9. I don’t want children. Maybe I will again someday, but to quote the older brother -- I just got free again; why would I want to change that? I love being an aunt, and I’m good with just that role.

  10. I love being alone. I am sick of people (including myself) trying to stop me from being alone. I do not need someone to complete me whether that’s a partner or children. I am not a whole person only when I have become a wife and a mother. I am a whole person right now.  

  11. I am better at things than I give myself credit. I don’t give myself nearly enough credit, still. Luckily, I have a best friend who tells people I am working on a novel when I gloss over that fact. Feels funny still to say “I am a writer,” especially since I don’t yet have any proof. But then again, it’s not really about proving it to anyone besides myself.

  12. I feel more like myself than I have in over 10 years.

Yeah, that last one was kind of sappy and I do despise sap, but I really needed a 12th one to make the whole idea here work, soooooo…

I am a whole person right now.

To write or to trophy wife...that is the question. by Deidra Dallas

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.

I envy those who are able to pull off the teaching gig. I wish that I was one of them.

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”).

To be or not to be: that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.
— Hamlet, 3.1

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).