Friday, May 20, 2011

Sick Day; New Career

Why does taking a sick day feel like such a personal defeat?  It's not bad enough that you feel terrible and crappy, but there is something about staying home when you're a teacher and ill that makes you emotionally queasy.  Today I am home ill.  It is not my first sick day, and I'm sure it won't be my last in my life, but I always feel like I'm letting everybody down.  Students, other teachers, admin, the subs... it's all a big mess.  And when you're physically ill, you're not in peak condition to handle the guilt and panic that comes with taking the day off.

Perhaps it would be easier to recover if I didn't have this little cloud of gloom hanging over my head.

Blog, I'm sorry for neglecting you.  Readers, I am more sorry for neglecting you than you can imagine.  I have had to focus on my personal life and refrain from negatively blogging about my professional life for the last few months.  I assure you that I have made a large number of life changes that I will be sharing with you over the next month, but I still have four more weeks in this school year before I can officially out myself on some fronts.

The biggest news I can share is that I have accepted a new full time job at the crisis center/suicide hotline where I currently volunteer.  The position begins immediately after the school year ends and reflects a career change for me--from education to nonprofit/counseling.  I am thrilled to be on board at an agency that provides so much for the community and is comprised of such awesome people.  Part of my position as the evening shift (4pm-12am) supervisor involves assisting/training/supervising volunteers, so I guess I'll still be doing some teaching.

However, one of the biggest perks is that I can begin blogging again.  Teaching is so draining (even when it's good) and time-consuming and this year in particular has been so hard on me emotionally.  I haven't even been reading that much, this is how bad it is.  I have had a few adventures that I've completely failed to blog about since arriving back in the U.S. (lots of sailing trips, some different parks and festivals in the area, and some historic sites).  Now, I will have more time, energy, and desire to both do things around DC and write about them.  I am also eager to throw myself back into the simple living movement.

It will be strange for the first time in seven years to shed the label "teacher."  The job has shaped my life in many ways for most of my young adulthood.  It's even in the current blog banner as one of my key identities.  I'm not sure how I will feel when it is actually shed, but right now I have less ambivalence about it than usual and am simply thrilled not to have to be bogged down by everything that label brings with it--the demands, the martyrdom, the pressure, the villainization by the media, the moral expectations from society...

It's been a long time since I've lived without having to think about how my personal life reflects on my career.  Without clipping my wings before even trying to fly with some things.  I'm not even sure I'm fully aware of the extent to which I've been living with this burden.  In some ways, being a teacher in Korea was freeing of that, but even so I felt a pressure to be a "good" ESL teacher (not too much partying/drinking/Korea bashing--but for me that wasn't really hard).

Not that I'm saying teachers should or must amend their personal lives to suit our narrow view of what teachers "should" and "should not" be allowed to do.  In fact, I believe the opposite.  I've always been frustrated by the martyr (or alternatively, better-than-parents, all-sacrificing, or if you're FOX news, the greedy-lazy-unionized) view of teachers where we are expected to somehow fix all the ills of society without ever demanding anything from it.  Why can't a teacher have a side business of romance novelist?  Why can't she have a blog that expresses negative views about her job in general terms?  Why can't he have a drink in a foreign country without getting fired?  I mean... if the teacher didn't bring it up in class and it doesn't affect the job performance what's wrong with a teacher as a professional writer, as a community participant, as a traveler?  A person who is thoughtful and open on all these fronts would only be a BETTER, not worse, teacher.  But I digress...

Anyhow, although I'm battling a vicious cold today and taking care of my body, I find the need to reflect on why I feel all this pressure and wonder if I'll feel the same mental and emotional pressure about my health at my new job.  I'm pretty sure it won't.


  1. for your health take a 1000mg of vitamin c every day for the rest of your life and your cold will be less frequent and just maybe a thing of the past. of course, i am assuming you are not doing this now. good luck with your new job.

  2. Congratulations and good luck with your new job.

  3. I've always enjoyed your blog - mainly because of your thoughtful perspectives on teaching. Wish you all the best in your new career :)

  4. I hope you comment on how your husband is coping with life in the US. I'm really interested to find out!

  5. Congratulations on the new job!! It sounds very meaningful and I hope you like it (and by like it I mean I hope you find it rewarding, not that you "enjoy" it...).



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