I’ve reached that point in the semester. There are three weeks of class left and I’m running low on ideas, drive, and patience. I’ve been balancing a full-time job and part-time teaching for a couple of months now, and the steady stream of work and responsibility is now threatening to sweep me under. In the beginning, I knew it would be difficult, but my ambition soothed my anxious thoughts, whispering sweet nothings to me like,”You can handle anything.” and “You’re so lucky to get to do what you love.” In the middle of night, surrounded by papers, darkness and silence, those sweet whispers became pious battle cries.
But honestly, how much longer can this continue?
I’ve consistently lived a life full of obligations and activities. In undergrad, I went to class, edited the student newspaper, interned at a local business, was a teaching assistant, hung out with friends, visited my family often and dated a few boys. But a life full of activity and one full of work is not the same. Back in college, I was overachieving and pushing myself hard in hopes that one day in the near future, I wouldn’t have to do so much hustling. I was doing all that stuff so that one day I could feel like I’ve “made it.” I’m still hustling, so I suppose I haven’t “made it” yet.
So when can I stop “hustling” and “handling” my life?
I’ve already been asked if I plan to teach in the fall. My honest answer isn’t an answer at all. It is a glaring question mark. I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do this again. If I want to do this again. There’s a lot to think about and a lot I don’t know. I know that I don’t want to be a perpetual adjunct. Living on the outskirts of academia, working hard in a dust land until someone recognizes me and calls me up to take my place in the royal court of full-time work, pay, and benefits. I’m not going to partake in the fantasy that one day I might get a full-time job teaching college composition. I have a friend who has been waiting for years for a full-time composition job. Yes, years. Years for others to decide her fate and allow her to make a living wage doing what she loves.
I don’t want to wait to do what I love.
I love teaching, but I love other things too. Other careers that would honor my contribution right now, not when the gatekeepers eventually deem me worthy enough to contribute. I found such a place when I took a marketing job earlier this year. Sure, it pained me to drop two out of three classes for the spring semester, but I couldn’t wait to contribute to something again. I couldn’t wait to be a part of a team again. A team that I knew wanted me there, knew what I was capable of, and was willing to pay me fairly for my work. I wonder how (and if) teaching fits into this life I’m creating for myself. Does it make sense to continue to give my time, my most precious resource, away when I could be focusing on other things? Does it make sense to keep teaching when I don’t think I could get a full-time job doing it?
And what if I leave?
But if I quit what happens to this blog? I can’t writing about teaching if I don’t teach anymore. Then what happens to the relationships and community have met through this blog? Amazing people like Lee, Clay, Nicole, Alisa, Liana, Carly, Dana, James, Heather, ProfKM, and so many more. Can we still keep in contact? But then what would we talk about? What would happen to me? Would I miss teaching? I love being a part of the educational system, but will I feel fulfilled enough with just an administrative role? What would life be like for me outside the classroom? Would it just be more hustling and handling or would I have more time and sanity to make it something else? Something better? Is it time to recite my swan song, so in a few weeks I can take flight to focus solely on a new adventure and challenge? Or is it best to stay here, as there are more ducklings waiting on the other side of the pond, hoping someone will come back to teach them how to swim?