Sunday, July 14, 2013

Life decisions at 23

One year ago, I was living in Newmarket, and about to finish up my Master's of Education at UNH.  It was perhaps one of the strangest and most challenging times of my life.  I was about to leave the world I had come to know and love over the past 5 years.  I loved my apartment on the river, my experience during my internship at Marshwood, and of course most of all, I loved my friends.  The fact that all of these things were about to be taken away from me when I received my diploma was unfathomable to me.  It's no secret the months leading up to graduation were tumultuous for a multitude of reasons, which do not need to be rehashed.  In short, I was emotionally drained and unsure of what was in store for me.  I was completely conflicted because I knew that I had outgrown "college life", but even knowing that didn't make it any easier to leave.

After a lot of tears and countless hours of unpacking my life, I was back in Manchester.  The only certainty I had at that point was the nanny job I had lined up for the summer.  Beyond that, I had absolutely no idea what the next months had in store.  

Before I moved back home, I started to look into my options for teaching.  There were virtually no teaching jobs in the US, and any jobs that were posted for Social Studies teachers would get absurd numbers of applicants, many of whom would have more experience than I had with only my internship under my belt.  As I started to realize my options were limited, I began to look into options outside of the country. I've wanted to live abroad for quite some time. It was one of my goals during college to study abroad.  Clearly, that never happened as I elected to do an accelerated Master's program to save money and be done with all my schooling after 5 years at UNH.  While foregoing the option to study abroad was my greatest regret about my time at UNH, with a little bit of research, I quickly learned that there are tons of opportunities to teach abroad.  The prospect of teaching abroad immediately appealed to me--getting the chance to travel while teaching?  Not a bad way to spend one's early 20s.  I knew I wasn't ready to settle down for the rest of my life at the age of 23, so teaching abroad seemed like the perfect option for me.  I was sold.

Of course, God has a way of changing all your plans on you.  At the end of August I got an e-mail from one of my professors at UNH telling me that there was a last minute teaching position available at a local high school.  He gave me the contact information of the school and told me to get in touch if I was interested in applying.  It was a Monday and I had just gotten back from babysitting....after working at my church's weekend-long festival, mind you.  I was tired.  I wanted to go abroad.  I had a part-time job working at the museum.  I almost didn't reply to the e-mail.  While I really didn't think I had any chance of getting the job, on the off chance that I did, I thought it would mean giving up on my dreams of traveling.

But at the same was a job.  A job doing what I went to school for....with a salary....and with benefits.  I responded to the e-mail, had an interview two days later, and was offered a job hours after my interview.  School started a week after my interview, and the rest is history.  

Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE my job, and to this day, I constantly remind myself of just how ridiculously fortunate I am to have a job.  Getting a teaching job right out of college is almost unheard of these days, and I am beyond thankful that I not only landed a coveted position, but that I have had the most amazing experience over the course of this year.  Am I constantly exhausted? YES. Am I forever behind on grading? YES.   Am I overwhelmed, almost on the daily? YES.  

But do I also work with some of the greatest kids? YES. Are the people I work with amazingly supportive and kind, generous people? YES.  At the end of the week, do I feel happy with what I'm doing with my life? Absolutely.

I love my job.  I love teaching.  I love the school I'm at.  And as much as I was dreading being back in Manchester, this year has been amazing.  Do I miss my friends from college?  Do I miss the seacoast?  Oh yes, I do.  But overall, I am in such a better place than I was a year ago.  While last year at this time I was a little short of a mess, this year I feel at peace.  It's really amazing what a year will do.

So, this brings me to my next point...if I'm so content, why would I want to change anything?

Well, this is the problem.  I am 23, soon to be 24.  There aren't many points in life where you can pack up two suitcases and move to the other side of the world.  Some people manage to do this at different points in life, but I can see the window closing for me.  I want to see the world.  I want to test myself.  I want to be outside of my bubble.  

Some people tell me I should just keep working here and travel when I can.  While I hope to travel throughout my life, I want to do more than just visit places.  I want to live with people from a completely different culture from my own.  I want to be able to make a home and find comfort in a country completely different from the US.  

Teaching abroad at this point is not going to be a step up for my career.  In fact, it's one of the main things that makes me want to stay put.  I have worked so incredibly hard this year, and I feel like I could be a much better teacher next year.  On some levels, it seems wrong to stop that momentum now.  

This is where the conflict comes in...what is advantageous for my career is not what is advantageous for me personally.  If I stay here I will become a better social studies teacher.  If I go abroad, I become a more well-rounded person.  I'm not sure I can have both at this point.  

I have passed my interview with the EPIK program in Korea. If I go, I'll be working with a co-teacher teaching English to students in public schools in Korea.  I have no experience teaching English.  History and government are my passions, so I'm not even sure I'll enjoy teaching English.  I won't be leading my own classroom. These are jobs that many people without teaching experience obtain.  I have a Master's in Education, and a year's teaching experience.  I am overqualified for the position.  

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the position is beneath me by any means, it just seems backwards from the way I wanted to do things.  I wish I could freeze the job I have now for a few years from now.

So, the decision I have to make is this--do I put my career on hold to accomplish a personal goal?

As of now, I think yes. Although, I'm not sure I will ever feel completely satisfied with any decision.  

No comments:

Post a Comment