Recovery is hard, but recovery of the mind is even harder. Since I’ve found myself with quite a lot of free time, I’ve been thinking a lot. Often to my detriment thanks to those lovely thought spirals. But as I round the corner in recovery, now is the time to really consider and examine my mental recovery. And not even mental recovery from a hysterectomy, but from teaching.
I’m coming out of a toxic relationship. I know that it was toxic because in the past two weeks, despite the fact that my body just experienced a huge life-changing surgery, I have felt more like myself than any time in recent memory. Something happened in September, and it wasn’t pretty. I said goodbye to the altered work locations (one day a week virtual) and increased flexibility and autonomy, and I begrudgingly said ‘hello, again’ to business as usual. Unfortunately, this push to bring everything back to ‘normal’ (which now includes regular active shooter drills) drove me out of the profession.
I always want to make a caveat that maybe I’m not done with teaching forever. But maybe I am. No matter what, I don’t have to defend my decision to leave the profession to anyone.
I’ll be honest: I’m not 100% sure what my plan is. And I’m okay with that. I saw a quote today that resonated with me:
In my life I’ve done a lot of things for me or because I wanted to do them (like my MA in linguistics), but I would say most of what I’ve done has been for other people, specifically to save face in front of other people so that I don’t look bad in front of other people.
In mainstream America there’s a very clear progression of a career. While this varies from profession to profession, it’s clear to see if someone is either going forward in their career or not. I’m clearly not at this point in time. It seems downright irresponsible to quit a job where I’m good at it and I make decent money, where I have tenure and a good reputation. But surprise surprise, all of that doesn’t necessarily equate to long-term fulfillment or peace. My rebellious side does get a certain amount of pleasure in doing something against the societal norm.
In any case, I’m going to continue vibing with the quote, “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” So what is that, exactly? Right now that looks like:
- gardening and encouraging biodiversity in my tiny yard
- reading both fiction and nonfiction to expand my worldview and exposure to new/different ideas
- cooking healthy foods
- supporting local farmers
- cultivating relationships with friends and family
- applying to jobs that I truly want to do and companies whose values align to mine
About the last point – no longer having similar values was a big reason I decided to bow out of public ed. It was very clear to me that while the school system said they valued things like equity, diversity, and accountability, their actions said pretty much the opposite. I apologize for being a little vague – maybe in time I will feel bold enough to share details.
Something I will explore in the future as I get my bearings is how to further live out those values in my own life – How can I demonstrate and fight for equity, diversity, and accountability? What does that look like as a member of society at large?