My, how things (including my attitude and life) have changed! This piece was written on January 12, 2013 where I was asked to respond to the following prompt:
Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Do you agree or disagree? What will you do to energize yourself for 2013?
Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” All things? Maybe not. Energy and persistence are needed to achieve goals. That I can agree with. Maybe more is needed to conquer everything else. From my experience and as long as I can remember, if I wanted something bad enough, hard work and determination were required. Being instilled with a strong sense of responsibility at a young age did that for me. However and unfortunately, 2012 has bestowed upon me a different hand. A situation I’ve yet to conquer, that being the slow decimation of my career.
I’m learning that no matter how hard you work, the dreams you have pursued and have even achieved can easily be taken from you. Exaggeration? Dramatic? Possibly. Given perspective, enjoying all that life has to offer is a great learning experience and easy to do if one can afford to do so. Dealing with life’s hardships; a break-up, loss of a loved one, job-loss, health-scare, economic uncertainty, etc. is another thing. I’m not entirely sure that Ben had these hardships when he said his quote. Do I regret the academic and career choices that I’ve made? Not at all. It was a journey, and it was mine. And I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But if I was told in advance that I would lose my job, insurance, tenure, livelihood, the thing that I love to do which is teach, then I don’t know what path I would’ve chosen. The experiences in my teaching profession has had its ups and downs. Teaching, small children or otherwise, is not easy and it’s not for everyone. But it felt (feels) right for me. When I think about how much I love what I do, I feel lucky. A lot of people work to live and not live to work. I knew what wasn’t for me; the 9-5 cubicle and/or office space type career. That would’ve drove me nuts and ultimately make me unhappy.
Teaching as a profession was my calling and it’s a part of who I am. As I write this, I notice I’m having difficulty with the proper usage of tenses when I refer to the love of my career. And when I lost my job, I didn’t realize what I would lose. It was more than the benefits and the insurance. I lost a confidence in me and there are other major areas of my self that have been greatly affected. Yes, I can play the blame game, which of course, is never fun. As much as I try to stay positive about my future, I’m scared. Which is an after-effect of job-loss. A lot of emotions, thoughts, considerations, choices that I make are now different and to say the least, not as care-free as before. I’m realizing the fact that these are grown-up, adult, real-life situations that I’m facing. I think what probably makes me scared is that I feel I’m ill-equipped to handle being said grown-up. After working with over two hundred students under the age of 10, I thought I can handle anything. I thought teaching would be secure and there’d be a paycheck every month. It wouldn’t be much but that wasn’t the point. I wanted to be able to be self-sufficient and plan my life accordingly. Things have certainly not gone that way. And everyday is a constant reminder.
I suppose the lesson is that life will always throw you a curve ball. So I will take this time to digress into what other things that Benjamin’s words of wisdom failed to mention. Faith, and the love of my family and friends, has helped with my economic and unfortunate situation. Having a sounding board, when some people do not, is always something to be tremendously thankful for. I know I’m not the only one going through harsh economic times. I have a roof over my head, people who love me, and I won’t grow hungry. That I know for sure. But wanting more for my life? I can’t say for certain. That’s what’s hard everyday. I work half time receiving per diem pay. That’s not what I wanted for myself. That’s not what the people in my life wanted either. But I try to remain hopeful. I run, which is a great stress reliever. I hang out with my friends and visit family whenever possible. I partake in retail therapy. I work at a school where I’m loved. So even though all the pieces of my life are not exactly where they’re supposed to be, it’s a waiting game. That and trying to have faith. And it isn’t easy. Some days are better than others. But ultimately, as much as I once thought as Ben did, I’m not in agreement that it’s all about energy and persistence. To energize myself for 2013, it will have to be something different. When it happens, I will let you know.
Update: After surviving teacher layoffs in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 as well as spending the past two and a half years working as an education specialist, I am now teaching a 2/3 combination class in the general education setting! Mission (and lemonade) accomplished!