For many years now, I have been aimless. Other than staying at home and being a mom I have been flailing around trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I have, in a way, taken my mom’s example of being a lifelong stay at home mom, and just stuck with it out of familiarity and comfort. However, I haven’t found the same fulfillment in it that she has. I’ve wanted more. I’ve wanted to make an impact on the world. First I tried to go back to school for Human Services. I figured since I have received public assistance, and I know how stressful and difficult the process and pressure can be, I wanted to help others and make the process as painless as possible. As I started down that path I realized that the industry of Human Services was doing downhill, lots of job cuts and budget cuts. It became apparent that it was not an industry I could advance and thrive in, down the line. So I started looking into Photography and Graphic Design. I was excited about it for a while knowing that I had quite a bit of knowledge and talent in that area already. But making my very enjoyable hobby a career, and taking classes about things I already knew just for the graduation requirement soon became tedious and I lost interest. Then I considered Early Childhood Education – lost interest when I couldn’t complete the final presentation in my Educational Psychology class. Then I considered being a mental health therapist – working with kids and families. Part of this was the right path, but it didn’t quite fit, so I quit once again.
The trying and quitting took a big toll on me. Not only did I have anxiety problems already, but the feel of failure time and again ate away at my self-esteem and self-worth. I started to believe I could not accomplish anything I started. I did a lot of self-evaluation and digging, and linked my habit of quitting back to my childhood. When I was young, I was allowed to quit anything I tried if I didn’t like it. Though I think it was done out of good intentions to follow my own happiness, I do wish I would have been made to at least finish the class, season, or period (depending on the activity). This habit of quitting has not just been with education and employment, but also with relationships and personal goals. The thought of anything long-term just scared the crap out of me and made me feel trapped.
After all of this self-evaluation (and after several psychology classes) I realized that I truly had a problem, and there was no way I could fix it alone. So I finally decided I needed to step out of my comfort zone, confront my anxiety and fears, and seek therapy for help. I started seeing a therapist during the spring of 2013. Despite the desire not to quit again, the therapist I was seeing made me feel very uncomfortable. But rather than just quit, I tried a different therapist. I have been with her ever since! She is amazing, and has pointed out so many different ways of thinking. She has guided me to be stronger and stick with things because I deserve it, not because other people are depending on me. She has helped me build my self-worth and self-esteem. She is helping me to realize that I need to find my passions and spend time doing things to feed those passions.
Besides just her, I have also been working with a job placement agency that helps with job readiness and job skills. There is a program I am currently going through that puts you through exercises that strongly encourage you to follow your desires for a career. At first I thought it was a bunch of bologna and far too idealistic. But while filling out the first unit’s exercises, I put some pieces together for myself. I listed some of the following qualities about myself.
- I love art and always have.
- I am very creative.
- I enjoy working with kids (they don’t cause me anxiety like adults).
- I require a job with “mother’s hours.”
- I thrive in a non-structured, chaotic environment.
- I have good manners and tact, and know how to act proper.
- I have excellent basic computer knowledge.
I started to think about stuff I could do with those. I don’t want to work in Child Care because I find it boring. I don’t want to go for an art degree because that industry is way too competitive…
Then I had an experience: A couple weeks ago I volunteered at the kids’ school because one of my sons needed me that day. And I figured what better way to be there for my kids, and to match their hours than to work at the school! So I put in an application to work either in food service or as a paraprofessional, helping kids that need a little boost in the classroom. I thought about how much I loved being in my son’s classroom for just 1 day, even with no big responsibilities. I noticed how much those kids want to learn. I started thinking about my elementary experiences, and how much my teachers made a difference for me. I still remember every teacher I had, their name and what specifically I learned from every one of them. Especially my 2nd grade teacher and my art teacher. My art teacher! Then it hit me… all of my passions, desires and abilities could be focused into being an ART TEACHER in an elementary school!!! I could teach kids about all the different mediums and techniques, from coloring with crayons, working with clay, drawing, painting, making papier mâché, and so much more. The environment would be somewhat unstructured and messy. I would be inspiring future generations and creating a passion for art in some. Good hours. Yes, sounds perfect!
So between my therapy, my job readiness program, and my recent personal experiences, I have found my true calling! It has taken me years to get to where I am today, and I must say I am happier now than I have ever been. And its for ME, not for my kids, not more my relationship, not for my parents, public assistance helpers or anyone else. I am doing this because it is what I want to do.
I have already started the financial aid appeal process with the local community college. I only have 8 more classes to take to get my Associate’s degree in general education. Then I will transfer to a Bachelor’s degree program at a university for Elementary Education with an emphasis (or minor) in Art. I have made a promise to myself that no matter how uncomfortable, boring, monotonous, or scary it may be for me, I WILL follow through and get this completed. For me. Because I deserve it. And once I am done and become a licensed teacher, I’ll start looking for an amazing job in a respected elementary school. In the meantime I hope to get that job in the local school district, not only for experience for future career plans, but also to start living the dream of working with kids and making an impact. And of course supporting my family.
It feels really good to have a realistic plan made for myself. I know that my goal is attainable. I know what steps I need to take to get there. And they are reasonable and reachable steps as well. I will do this. Finally!