I have felt cornered and suffocating in my role as a high school teacher ever since beginning of this year. I guess what causes the trigger was during last Christmas, I met up with some of my old school mates and saw how well they have done for themselves. Lisa* my best friend is now a high-ranking manager in New York, Tom* my neighbor’s son is a lawyer even the loser we deemed during our school days is now owner of a successful meat-packing company.
All my life I had always wanted to teach, my parents are both retired lecturers, my grandparents used to hold some teaching positions in their early days. Both my older siblings are teachers too, one in Korea and the other in Ohio. It’s like my career path have been mapped out for me even before I was born!
I don’t hate teaching, it’s just I don’t feel passionate about it anymore. I don’t even want to think of creativity ways to teach my class and kept relying on old lesson plans from last year to teach the same thing this year, just to a new batch of students. I don’t earn much and I don’t have the skills to take up something different. Both my aging parents depends on my salary and their savings to get them through.
I think I am out of juice. Please advise what else can I do?
It’s good that you recognize the trigger to your problem, it makes things clearer and easier to act upon to change or improve certain aspect of your career. While friendly comparison are what’s motivate us to aim higher and work harder, it can be the thing that drag us down in dumps.
Previously, you thought you are happily contented until you started comparing yourself to the more successful people next to you. Do keep this in mind, everyone will only show how good they have been and not the horror stories and experience that get them where they are or even current sufferings especially these are people you have not met for a long time. They will feel a need to present their best to each other and to you.
Look at all the positive things that are happening in your life. If you can’t, chose a quiet sunny afternoon, locked the door, take a pen and a piece of paper, sit next to a window and list down all the happy things you have right now. Start with “you still have your health”.
Next, I think you’ve heard it once too many times but I still would like to gently remind you that teaching is a noble career, you are giving a part of yourself to each of your students. When they leave school, they are bringing away a piece of you.
If you still want to explore more of what you can do, think of the alternatives but keep your core job. This way you’ll still be an expert at what you are doing but in a different way. You can explore teaching jobs outside of your country like your sibling in Korea. This will allow you to learn different cultures and give you a chance to see the world. Or go into private teaching? I’ve heard of good private tutors earn a fair bit especially if they are capable to teach different ages or if you serve exclusively. You can even serve the community by a small tuition weekend classes in the living room of your house!
The possibilities are endless, you just need creativity and a whole lot of research. If you need to delve deeper into this, I can help you further but let’s make sure you are in the right frame of mind – positive.
Let me know your thoughts and we’ll continue from there. Meanwhile, take good care of yourself. Rome wasn’t built within a day.