The Scariest Decision of My Life

On the Wednesday before Christmas, I discovered something sweeter than cake; I discovered just how sweet following your heart and speaking your mind could be.

On December 22, I quit my job as a preschool teacher.

It was absolutely the scariest decision I’ve had to make thus far, but when the words came out of my mouth, the feeling of sheer relief was indescribable.

Let’s backtrack to August.

The job I’d held since 2009 cut my hours in half. Although I loved my coworkers, my students, and my job, there was no way I could make ends meet on a part-time teaching salary and I was forced to look for a full-time position. Since I was still in the process of completing my last class for my Bachelor’s degree, I considered myself lucky to find a spot as a lead two year old teacher. My bills would be paid and I’d be able to avoid moving back home with my mother after graduation – it seemed like a brilliant opportunity, right?

Wrong.

After only a few weeks,  I knew that I didn’t belong working at the preschool. I was cooped up in a small, windowless room for eight hours a day, changing diapers and wiping snotty noses.

For the next several months, I did everything I could think of to push through. I told myself I needed to adjust to the younger kids. I told myself I needed to get more involved with lesson plans. I told myself I was doing what I needed to do to maintain my independence. Basically, I told myself whatever I had to in order to get through the day.

Who did I think I was fooling?

You can fake a smile, you can fool others, but it’s impossible to lie to yourself.

Despite my best attempts to stay positive, I couldn’t help but ask myself: you worked your ass off through school for this?

I didn’t have any motivation to get out of bed on Monday morning, and when I did, I didn’t recognize the listless, unhappy woman I had turned into. I felt like I’d done a complete 180 from the ambitious, energetic, and inspired individual I had been only months ago. I’d finally broken free from the vicious cycle of self-loathing, and just as I was coming into my own and emerging as a bright, happy young woman, I was forcefully shoved backwards into confusion, listlessness, and constant doubt about my worth and my future.

What nobody tells you about working in a preschool is that you’re surrounded by the screams and cries of inconsolably fussy children for the whole day. When all you’re exposed to is non-stop tears and tattling, it becomes harder and harder to keep a genuine smile on your face.

One night a few months ago, The Coach mentioned that he’d been picking up a fake-perky vibe from me and asked if I was acting excessively bubbly because I was happy or if I was simply overcompensating for feeling exactly the opposite. Although I told him that I was just under a lot of stress and was just a naturally perky person, I realized that I really had been doing everything in my power to make up for the fact that deep down, I knew  that something was not right.

Every evening, I’d peeled out of the preschool parking lot as though it were a Nascar speedway – I couldn’t leave fast enough. On several occasions, I drove home with tears streaming down my face.  One night I sat in my empty car, screaming at the top of my lungs because I had no other way to process the frustration that I was feeling. I felt indescribably trapped. Worse yet, I knew that I had too much potential and too much life ahead of me to feel that I was never going to be good for anything more than dispensing tissues and wet wipes.

One day in the week leading up to my decision to quit, I melted down in my classroom. I began shaking and crying, physically unable to say anything other than “I can’t do this anymore” for twenty straight minutes.

Finally, enough was enough.

I knew that I had to take charge and reclaim my life.

After seven hours of sending out resumes, I was extended three promising interviews at various editing and marketing firms. The first went well, yet I could immediately tell that the position wasn’t going to be the right fit for me. The second, however, couldn’t have been more perfectly tailored to me had I created it myself.

Arriving at the preliminary interview nearly a half hour before the appointment, (what can I say, I’m a chronically early person!) I texted The Coach to tell him that I had this absolute sense of belonging as I sat in the lobby, waiting to meet with the director. That sense quadrupled as I spent three full hours in the smoothest interview of my life.

As I walked out of the building, I knew I was needed to work there.

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I then found myself facing with the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make: Quit my steady yet emotionally and mentally taxing teaching job in order to take the only time slot available for a secondary interview at a job that may or may not materialize, or stick with the steady paycheck and pass up what could be my best shot at launching a career that pursues my passions and utilizes my talents.

In some matters, no amount of practicality can override your gut instinct, and by no means should it ever replace following your heart.

With shaky knees and a million-word-per-minute voice, I informed my boss that I would not be returning to the preschool after our Christmas vacation.

Immediately after the words left my mouth, I felt a huge sense of relief. I had expected to be scared witless about the uncertainty the next few days was going to bring as I waited for word from the company, yet I was met with the peace that only comes from following your gut.

On December 28th, I was extended an official offer to be the new assistant writer/editor for an Orlando firm; I start three days after the new year rolls in.

After a ridiculous amount of giddy phone calls, Facebook posts, and a celebratory evening with friends, it’s finally sinking in. This is really going to be my life. This is my shot at the future I’ve been envisioning. I’m an editor. Assistant editor…but who’s really keeping track? 😉

Thank you all for sticking with me through these rough several months. I know that I haven’t been offering all I had to offer, in life and in the blog. Thankfully, I’m now feeling more hopeful and optimistic than ever, and I’m incredibly excited to get to share that excitement with with you all. I finally feel like myself again, and I’m looking forward to this amazing chapter!

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21 Comments on “The Scariest Decision of My Life”

  1. Tatianna says:

    It’s stories like this that keep me on my toes — I’m still young and just going into university now, and I know that I have to pursue what I truly want deep down as soon as I figure out what that is. A lot of the time I get stuck thinking about settling on something that I know will be financially secure, but I guess it doesn’t really matter if you aren’t happy.
    I am incredibly proud of you, and inspired by your story. Congratulations on your new life!

    • Faith says:

      Thank you!

      I definitely felt a lot of pressure during university to figure out what I even wanted to pursue since my original major (education) was chosen out of convenience and I somewhat stumbled upon English. The path I wanted to take didn’t really sink in until senior year, and by that point, I was scared because I was too late for internships and all that fun stuff. It seemed like an awful place to be in! I totally understand the pressure of trying to figure it out on time, but playing around with your electives really helps you get a taste for what you may be interested in. You’ll find what you’re meant to do in good time and you’ll certainly appreciate the journey! You’re going to do great in university 🙂

  2. I just read the entire thing, it’s so great for you! Wow, I’m so happy for you 🙂 Congratz, you really deserve better then that preschool and how it made you feel. Enjoy your new life 🙂 🙂

  3. Wow Faith….CONGRATS!!!! I hope your new job is everything you dreamed it would be and more. 🙂

  4. congratulations! what you did takes GUTS! and you should be really proud. best of luck in 2011!

  5. wow – congrats girl!! i wish you the best of luck this year! good for you for listening to yourself. It may be scary, but a new adventure shall be fun!

  6. Good for you, Faith! I’m so glad to hear that you’re making a change for the sake of your happiness.

  7. I am grinning from ear to ear for you right now 🙂 You are a very strong, and inspiring woman, and I am so happy for you!!! What an amazing thing to do for YOU! I am proud of you, and excited for your new life direction.

  8. Oh my goodness Faith, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! I am so so so happy for you!!!! 🙂 I can not stop smiling! I want to give you a hug!!! Haha! You are going to ROCK it at your new job!

    What a GREAT way to end the year and an even better beginning of 2011! 🙂

  9. I recently decided to change my major – life decisions are so trying!! I feel as though I’m not qualified to sort through my own life sometimes lol

    Congrats on doing what you knew you had to. That takes a lot of strength 🙂

  10. Katharina says:

    Congratulations! It’s so important to go with that gut feeling 😀 Some times we forget to listen, but we do feel at peace when we finally just do it.

    XOXO best of luck to you!!!

    http://www.ohonemorething.wordpress.com

  11. kbwood says:

    WOW , oh my gosh, you are so incredibly amazing girl!! God has SO MUCH IN STORE FOR YOU!

  12. Weighting For 50 says:

    Congratulations!!!! What you did was incredibly courageous, and my hats off to you. I know your future will be very bright!

  13. I just found your blog and not only LOVE this post but I can relate to it! I just went through a huge decision too that I based on what was best for me! I’m so glad that you are happy and your risk of quitting for the interview slot paid off 🙂 Congrats!!

  14. Mimi says:

    I loved this story! Congratulations! Right now I’m torn between publicity and journalism. Problem is, I don’t have tons of publicity experience, so I don’t know how much I -really- like it. Liking it even in the trenches, so to speak. Whereas I really do love journalism…but right now promoting a hit film has me more excited than writing a feature…most days, any way. I’m hoping to get a publicity internship this summer to really get my feet wet. We’ll see! Thanks for reminding me to listen to myself!

  15. brandi says:

    What an amazing story to be able to tell 🙂

  16. Congrats, Faith!! I know what it’s like to be in a job situation that you are not happy in. And it’s sooooo true that no matter what you tell other people you can’t lie to yourself. I’m happy to hear that you took the risk and followed your heart. 🙂 Good luck with your new job!

  17. Jenn (GH) says:

    WOW!!!!! This is so exciting what a step of “faith”. (I’m sure you get that all the time :-/ and I actually think I’ve commented it here before.) But seriously I was glued to every word of this post. What a way to kick off 2011. Congratulations!!!

    PS I’m amazed you tried to be a preschool teacher. I could NEVER do that. I love kids but I know I would go totally crazy. I admire people who love it but I know it would never be me!

  18. Sarah says:

    That is amazing and so exciting, Faith! Congratulations to you!

  19. Krista says:

    Congrats, Faith!!!

  20. Good for you! I’m glad you didn’t allow yourself to remain in a job that was a poor fit. The years go so quickly; it’s great you are chasing your dreams now!


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