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Life After Teaching

May 20, 2013

The prompt for the blog challenge was to write about something we are struggling with in our lives. I'm not sure if my feelings post- teaching qualify but it is what has been on my mind lately.


Three months ago I woke up to shortness of breath, heart palpations, and the scariest panic attack I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing. This was not the first anxiety attack caused by the ever-mounting pressures of being a teacher, but that day I decided that it would be my last.

As I drove home from that doctor visit where I was told that if I could pinpoint what was causing my anxiety attacks that my only solution is to get on medication or eliminate the stressor, I knew that I had to make a choice. The idea of having to take a daily dosage of Xanax to get through the workday scared me. Would I become dependent on the medicine? I wasn’t sure what scared me the most, needing to take anxiety medicine to get through my every workday or accepting that fate. I knew of a teacher at my school that regularly took Xanax to get through the stressful parts of the school year. I didn’t want that. As scary as it sounded as I said it to myself I already knew what the answer was, I wanted a balanced life. A life where my job wasn’t literally making me sick from all the added stress and lack of support to go along with it.

Two months ago I walked through that familiar classroom door for the last time. This would be the last time a student would refer to me as Mrs. A. I wasn’t sure what feelings would be brewing inside of me on that final day of teaching. Would I be sad or relieved? While I felt twinges of guilt of leaving my classes more than half way into the school year, the feelings of relief ran through me all day long. I was going to be free of a part of my life that no longer fit. Many teachers believe they will be teachers until they hit retirement age. Career teachers. That was never my intention. I stumbled into teaching when my journalistic aspirations failed to come to fruition and I decided to try my hand at substitute teaching. I was surprised how much I enjoyed working with middle schoolers and went forward with teacher certification. What I have come to realize is that teaching was a just a chapter (a significant one) in my life. My life still has many other stories to tell.  That afternoon when I decided that I no longer wanted to be a teacher, I had no inkling on how the next chapter of my life would look. I had ideas and thoughts on jobs I was interested in. I knew that I wanted a job that would use my master’s degree in counseling, but that was about it. So I chose to take a leap of faith supported by my husband, parents, and an emergency savings fund. I applied to countless jobs mostly with no response, got several interviews where interviewers questioned why I left teaching and how would my skills transfer, and had moments where I was afraid that maybe future employers would never see past my years in the classroom.

For almost two weeks now I have been working a job that I’m really liking. A lot. A non-teaching job that actually uses my master’s degree that I am still paying off. I already can feel the shift in my life. I can come home and spend time on my interests. The truth is that I had been neglecting my hobbies during the school year and just coming home to grade papers or lesson plan. I missed having time to write, read, or just dabble in something new that I was excited about. I am not na├»ve to think everything will be perfect now. I could always still lose the balance again. For right now though I am happy and content with my life. 

                       A happy post needs a happy Denise picture. What better than from my bachelorette party? Disregard the shot glasses on my head lol. 

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