Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roller Coaster

So it's almost August, and soon I'm going to be able to start the whole process (about which I still feel a bit in the dark) of changing my name officially.  Since I still had bills up at my old apartment through August, it seemed to me a better idea to wait until I no longer had bills coming there (i.e., turn in keys at the apt, close out my utility bills, etc.) to start having to change my name with every single thing connected with me.

While I love the house and love not having to say good bye to my love, it's been hard in some ways.  I have to get used to how long it takes to drive out here, which is new for me.  We're technically in the capital, but it's so spread out and we're so far away in the corner that it takes forever to get anywhere. Just to get to the beltway, it takes at least 20 minutes, and then you have to actually go where you want to go. It's virtually impossible to get anywhere in less than 45 minutes, which is hard to get used to for me. 

This has been especially hard because as of yet, I am still unemployed.  I've had three interviews and have sent out probably 50 applications so far, but nothing has come through. It's hard to look for jobs because there is almost nothing in our part of town.  Most job listings start at least 10 miles away - but because of the way the city is laid out, that could take you anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour.  It's really hard to know which jobs to apply for, because most things are in the center of town, but that would require me to be in the car anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours a day. 

Money is ridiculously tight for us as long as I'm out of work, and I get pretty stressed about it. I love my husband, and think it's criminal that he gets paid so little when he works so hard.  He's the lead teacher for the middle school this year, and he's already spent 7 hours at the school and countless hours prepping at home this week. He doesn't get any real respect, almost no real support, and his salary has been cut every year despite the fact that he's obviously an excellent teacher and a good leader. So as hard as he works - on average, at least 60 hours a week - his salary really doesn't reflect that.

So I'm praying for leads. I check probably 6 different places, 2 of them pretty much every day.  It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be.  The disappointment isn't so much in the market - I knew it was awful, and I knew it would be an uphill battle convincing anyone to hire me when I've done nothing but teach college students for the past 8 years.  The disappointment is with how depressing and confusing it is for me.

In college, I knew I was being called to teach. It wasn't just a job, it really was a calling. I dedicated myself to it from then on, and have taught something like 1,000 students while in grad school and this past year at That Other State U.  As frustrating as academia could be, and as hard as it was at times, I always had that purpose.  The decision to leave academia, at least for now, is one that leaves me feeling both totally free and uncontrollably free-falling. Yes, I have options. Yes, I am not stuck begging for grants every 6 months. Yes, I might actually have the time *and* energy to give my all to my husband and our life together. And yet, I also have no purpose professionally.  I have no direction yet.  I've applied to so many things, mostly administrative/clerical - primarily because my body is a bit screwed up and I don't think I can handle standing all day.  But I don't have a passion.  I don't know if I'd even enjoy these jobs.

I never realized until now how much I defined myself as a teacher.  It wasn't just my job; it was my definition. And so now, when many of my former colleagues are writing syllabi and working on their dissertation, and my husband is trying to gear up for being at school with his pesky 8th graders starting next week, I'm drifting. 

I know that God has a plan for me. I know that there are many things I could do well.  But this in-between time is quite hard. I know I'm not alone.  I've been reading some blogs from others who have left academia recently.  Two that stand out so far are Leaving Academia and Another Academic Bites the Dust.  Dustbiter's post on the Roller Coaster was completely relatable.

It's just hard.  I'm looking forward to the day when it's less so.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Oh I identify with you Rachel in *so* many ways. The transition to being married is such a difficult period even though it is what you want. Changing your location, changing your name, delegating responsibilities, adjusting to living with your spouse, experiencing the things that the love of your life does that rubs you the wrong way at times.

And then you aren't working. I had to stop working in the middle of my school year before we were married because of my health issues. I was a speech language pathologist in a early childhood devleopment center (Preschool) where all the kids had disabilities. Over the years it has been a huge grief. And I know what you mean about identifying yourself as a teacher. And though you aren't preparing yourself for a teaching job right now, you will *always* be a teacher, even when you are not teaching.

It took a long time for me to realize that I am a speech language pathologist still even though I haven't practiced in 5 1/2 years! It was my heart. It was what I felt God wanted me to do. But no one else would see me as that. I have to fill out silly surveys sometimes and there is no box for me. Am I unemployed? Am I a homemaker? There is no box that defines me.

I'll be praying for you, that God's will be done. I pray that He brings you comfort and peace along the journey until you know what the path is. And I pray that he will help you two as you are navigating your financial situation.

Love you and I'm always here if you need a listening ear!