One month ago today, I sat in my classroom, surrounded by students who were anxious for final exams and summer break. A secret weighed heavy on my heart that Tuesday, a secret that would forever alter my path. The next day, I interviewed for a new job, a new career. A week later, I accepted an offer, and my life changed.
And now, here I sit, one month later, surrounded only by mementos of those same students – letters, drawings, even needle-points pinned to a bulletin board on my right. My classroom has been traded out for an office. The busy bustle of life as a teacher has been swapped with the freedom of a work-life among other adults. In just 30 days, my entire world has changed.
Although there are a plethora of aspects I will remember fondly about life as a classroom teacher, I’m proud of myself for diverging. I don’t want this blog to become a litany of my educational system woes, but it’s important to reflect on my truth – that the culture in which I was immersed was toxic to my well-being, physically and emotionally.
So far, this new career path feels right. I’m eager to come to work and soak up new knowledge. It feels like I ended a toxic relationship and began a fairy-tale romance, and, metaphorically, it’s not altogether dissimilar. Granted, I know there is a novelty period with any new profession, but this job allows me to take my favorite part of teaching, working with kids, and combine it with the antitheses of all my teaching qualms.
There has been a shift in who or what I allow in my life this past year. At first, I removed harmful friendships; eventually other, more serious relationships; and now, even my career has faced the wrath of the INFJ doorslam – a theory that people with my personality type realize when the energy expended maintaining a relationship does not yield the reciprocity needed to be fruitful.
Witnessing the disintegration of the human condition firsthand, the premature withering of what could have been the most fragrant flower, forever molded my worldview and strengthened my resolve. If something stifles my growth, is harmful to my soul, its’ flame is extinguished. Making these life-altering decisions was challenging at first but has now become an inescapable feeling in my gut, a whispering in my conscience – this is hurting you. I won’t avoid my conscience anymore; no one will look out for me like myself.
The other day, a dear friend of mine sent something she read that made her think of me. It said,
“She woke up Different. Done with trying to figure out who was with her, against her, or walking down the middle because they didn’t have the guts to pick a side. She was done with anything that didn’t bring her peace. She realized that opinions were a dime a dozen, validation was for parking, and loyalty wasn’t a word but a lifestyle. It was this day that her life changed. And not because of a man or a job but because she realized that life is way too short to leave the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”
I was flattered that when she read this I came to her mind – that my evolution has been noticed. Even more heartening is watching others follow suit when they see how much lighter my heart has become – that these difficult decisions have resulted in the freeing of my once crushed soul and blooming of my passions. Beyond being helpful to myself, it’s even more rewarding to become a mirror for others of the possibilities that can arise from just saying to something or someone – no. you’re not allowed to hurt me anymore.
I own my happiness; it is mine to preserve. Other people and situations do not have the power to take away my will.