The One Where I Quit My Job
For the past 14 years, I have been a teacher.
But now, I am not.
Those who know me well, or have known me for a long time, know that doing something like this is very out of character for me.
I warned you that 2021 was going to be wild, right? :)
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was little.
I’d force my younger cousins (or stuffed animals) to be my unwilling students, teaching lessons, assigning homework, and doling out punishments.
I know every little girl pretends to be a teacher at least once, but I was a one-trick pony. If you were coming to my house, we would play school, and I would always be the teacher. That was non-negotiable.
I didn’t choose education as my major right away in college because it had never crossed my mind. My parents never encouraged it because of the lack of pay, and it wasn’t the medical/business career that Indian parents expect their children to do.
I struggled the first two years of college trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do with my life. Everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were going to do. Here I was changing majors every few months.
It wasn’t until a random conversation with a friend who had suggested I go into education.
It made sense immediately.
Like, DUH. What the hell have I been doing?
And man….I have loved being a teacher.
Of course, it hasn’t been easy.
It’s the most thankless profession in the world (tied with nurses!)
But, despite the stress and anxiety that came with the job, I always enjoyed flexing my creative muscles and using my strength as a planner while developing fun and exciting lessons. I loved joking around with my students and developing these easy, loving, and respectful relationships with them and their parents.
That’s not to say that it has always been a Pinterest/Instagram perfect career.
It definitely has not.
It has been full of both extreme highs and extreme lows. This past year was probably the lowest in my career, as I’m sure most of my fellow educators would agree.
My classroom was my domain where I was in control. I was at my best within the four walls of that classroom — confident and assertive.
My evaluations scores were through the roof, so I have the proof to back it up that I was GOOD at my job.
So why did I quit?
You probably think, like many, “Oh, you quit because of the pandemic” or because of some bureaucratic education B.S.
That’s not the case at all. I’ve seen education go through all kinds of bureaucratic B.S. And pandemic or not, it didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would.
The truth is, there wasn’t ONE thing that pushed me to resign from my job.
It was 4 years of MANY things.
MANY moments of self-doubt and self-hate.
MANY instances of feeling unhappy. Stifled.
MANY days where I didn’t know who I was, and I hated myself.
MANY moments begging God, “There HAS to be more than just this.”
The last four years felt like a boxing match. I was getting hit with light punches at the beginning and my whole self didn’t even notice them because I was too distracted by all the shiny, happy things around me.
That’s what the devil does.
He distracts you with all kinds of good things that you think you need and want, when in fact they are toxic and dangerous — all meant to destroy you.
Those shiny, happy things became the very thing that brought me to my knees.
By the time this school year started, I was getting my ass kicked in that ring by Mike Tyson himself.
It was relentless and brutal.
The stress that naturally comes with the job was amplified due to the pandemic, but new ones started to pile on that had nothing to do with the pandemic.
And when I had started the school year, I was just crawling my way to the ropes of that boxing ring trying to get back up.
The whole first semester, I felt scared, lost, frustrated, angry, and stifled. I had a panic attack, cried myself to sleep, cried when I woke up. I was feeling everything under the sun — except joy and happiness.
And, unfortunately, my students were at the receiving end of every bit of that unhappy energy.
I had lost my love and joy for teaching.
I had no idea who I was and what I was doing, and it seemed to only worsen every day.
My broken spirit started to affect how I felt every day going into work.
I knew it was a problem.
I knew that I couldn’t be an effective teacher if I brought this energy every year.
I didn’t want to be THAT teacher for the rest of my life — who slowly became bitter and mean, making her students miserable coming to class.
Over the last 4 years, I always had these moments where I always believed there was something more for me to do in this life — that I was not just created to be a teacher.
But I ignored it and pushed it away.
Teaching is a ministry itself, so how dare I be ungrateful and demand that it wasn’t “enough.”
And I was too comfortable as a teacher.
I was damn good at this job.
I didn’t want to start over.
And frankly, I’m too old to be quitting my job.
Plus, I’m Indian.
Like most Indian parents, mine pushed us to have a very high work ethic — work hard, always respect our bosses, and be excellent at what we do.
And work until retirement or death. Whichever comes first.
We weren’t raised to work for fulfillment.
It’s all about that four-oh-onek. (Did you catch that Friends reference? 401K for those who didn’t!)
And that was always my plan.
Stay in the classroom for at least 5–10 more years, and then, maybe when I was ready for retirement, I would move into being a librarian.
But with each passing day, God was pushing me closer and closer to the edge of that cliff, saying, “You’re gonna have to get ready to jump, sis”.
Excuse me, Lord? I’m sorry, what?
Leave a job I’ve done for 14 years? With NO backup plan? Quit the ONE thing I was good at and was most confident doing??
Why was God asking me to do this??
Cause He’s crazy, that’s why.
I am a Taurus through and through — so change doesn’t happen easily or readily.
But God is such a pusher.
He’ll just push and push until you are so uncomfortable you have no choice but to actually do something.
Now that I look back, it is evident that for the past four years, He’s been pushing me little by little.
I was really good at ignoring His pushes until things got so uncomfortable that I had no choice.
This past March, I woke up in the middle of the night and had a panic attack because the time had come for me to make an official decision: stay or resign.
It was agonizing.
God was asking me to jump off this cliff with no parachute.
No job. Not even an IDEA of what I wanted to do next.
I have a mortgage! I have so much debt to pay off! I need insurance! I’m in GRAD SCHOOL.
ESSCUSE ME, LORD, HOW IS THIS GOING TO WORK!?!
I am a planner.
I’m not a risk-taker.
I’m not someone who does stuff like this.
I like safety.
I like routine.
The very next morning, I felt God very clearly say, “Jump.”
When He TELLS you to jump…..you jump.
Don’t ask questions.
Just do it, Nike.
So I did.
Faith is a verb.
So in faith, I printed out a resignation letter and signed it.
And because God has such a wonderful sense of humor…..
My last day of employment was my birthday, May 20th.
As soon as I turned in my resignation, this overwhelming peace filled me up, and I felt so much joy — something I had not experienced ever before.
These last 9 weeks were filled with just that — peace and joy. (Although there were some questionable weeks in April that I’m going to delete from my memory altogether).
I relished in the joy of giving ZERO effs — I taught what I wanted (I mean, I couldn’t go buck wild because #rulefollower). My relationships with my students changed dramatically — we laughed more, had so much fun together, and by the end, all of us were in tears, hugging each other tightly, knowing I wouldn’t be back to see them next year.
It was such a bittersweet way to end a career that I am so, so proud of.
I don’t know what is going to come next, y’all.
I don’t have a job. I don’t have any clue what I want to do. If you ask me what I want to do, I’m going to give you the answer I’ve given everyone: I’ll shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know”.
Cause I don’t know, y’all.
And I’m okay with not knowing (although, some people seem overly concerned about it).
My resume is so old and poorly written — (like, did I type that ish up on Microsoft Paint? Who said this was a good resume?).
I don’t know A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
And what makes it even scarier is that not everyone is going to understand (or support) your faith moves.
But, making faith moves doesn’t make sense to anyone but YOU.
And making faith moves will scare the pee right out of you.
But that’s how faith works, right?
You can’t act in faith if you’re not peeing your pants a little bit (or a lot a bit).
And, I’ve had pee running down my legs for weeks now.
It has been uncomfortable, sad, scary, and my anxiety has even manifested physically.
As the wise Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell said, “I’M SO EXCITED! I’M SO EXCITED! I’M SO….SCARED”
I get exactly what she was feeling/singing/screaming/overacting at that moment.
Even in the midst of all of that uncertainty, I wake up feeling like a kid the night before the first day of school. Filled with excitement about what will happen the next day — even if it’s nothing.
Even if the most exciting thing that happens is what I experience when I sit in prayer and meditation early in the morning, I am excited.
I may not be moving 100mph and applying at every job in the world.
I may not be out there hustling and grinding right out the gate as some people would.
But I am in wait right now. And when God tells me to move, I’ll move.
So although it may seem like I am “doing nothing” to some, what you don’t know is what God is working on behind the scenes.
Nor do you know it with the full assurance that I do.
I’m in that scary place of not knowing what will happen next but learning to wholly lean in and trust that God is preparing it all for me.
Many people around me — my sister the loudest one of all — have said that it will be incredible whatever I do. They seem to see something I wasn’t seeing. I always thought they were just blowing smoke up my ass to appease me.
But my eyes are wide open, and I get it now.
Whatever it is, and whenever it unfolds, it’s going to be IN-credible.
And if I’m wrong, this blog post will be here to haunt me.
But God hasn’t been wrong before….