The Pursuit Of Happiness
Every success starts with a dream. To get there, you have to start at the bottom to get to the top. No one ever tells you that your first job after graduating from college is going to suck, and you are going to need a certain amount of years of experience to get there. You start to wonder if this career you have chosen might be the right path for you. Later down the road and when you hit that goal you’ve always dreamed of, you realize it’s not what you wanted at all and you start to think if all the work and effort you have put into getting there was all for nothing. For many of us, it could be a let down.
I’m a woman in her late 20’s, still trying to navigate what it means to be successful in my career. My parents had always told me, “Whatever you decide to do, do something that makes you happy.” They have told me many times over the years as a child, but I never knew what that meant. However, I always knew since middle school that I wanted to be a writer to become an author. I was determined to make that happen and I still am. When I got to college, I learned that being a full-time writer would take a long time, and perseverance. I needed to find a day job that I liked just as much, to help my writing career.
As a young girl and beyond, many people have told me I would make a great teacher. Becoming a leader was not what I had in mind. If you would have asked me in high school what I wanted to do, I wanted to be a costume designer, or a fashion designer even. But that didn’t work out for me. When I started college, I decided for the fun of it, to take courses in teaching and see where it led me. Turns out teaching was my destiny. I loved being around kids. Before I graduated from college, I learned that special education teaching was my passion.
I connected with other special education students and I wanted to help them succeed in life. That was the goal. I honed in on my niche and gained experience in working with kids with special needs. Along the way, I also discovered I loved working with infants, toddlers, and preschool kids. It was then by my mid 20’s, I pursued my Masters in Special Education and my teaching credential in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). I graduated with my Masters and my teaching credential in May 2019. Everyone cheered me on, and supported my career all the way through. I would finally pursue the day job I was meant to do.
I got a job through the school district in Riverside County in the summer of that year and I moved there for the job. Everything felt right for once. I would finally start my career as a special education preschool teacher. It had great pay, and I would work with young children. What could possibly go wrong? Except everything did went wrong, and it was nothing like I expected.
As a first-time teacher, I somewhat expected that my co-workers and my boss would welcome me with open arms. I hoped they would encourage me to ask questions, to ask for help, a mentor to guide me, and ultimately, to be a part of the community. The reality was it was worse than I thought. The moment I stepped into my new job, nothing felt right and I tried to remain as positive as I could.
The responsibilities I had as a special education teacher was stressful enough. I learned so much in a short amount of time and it didn’t help that the majority of my co-workers and my boss were not as collaborative as I would hoped they would be. They were quick to criticize me rather than encourage me to learn from my mistakes, and this put a strain of my relationships with the people I worked with. On top of all of that, the responsibilities I had as a special education teacher, such as: dealing with kid’s behaviors and parents, learning about the IEP, and working long hours took a toll on me.
I had cried, stress ate and drank, and I gained weight. I was also spending less time on my writing, and more on my teaching career. It was crystal clear to me that I was unhappy with my job. It even put me in a mild state of depression. I felt lost, confused, and overwhelmed by this revelation and what made it worse was that I thought special education teaching is what I thought I wanted to do this whole time. I didn’t want to base on this experience alone. I thought about taking the same job at a different place, wherever that was, but in the back of mind, I was sure that I would still be unhappy in teaching special education. It was difficult for me to come to that conclusion, no matter how hard I tried, and how much work I put into my job.
So, what do I do next? I thought. That was the million dollar question. All I knew was I wanted to get out of my teaching job as fast as I could and find the next one I knew that I would be happy in. I just didn’t know where to start.
I thought about the things I enjoyed working in and thrived in the environment. My first thought was child care centers. I remembered while I was working on my masters and my teaching credentials, I used to work through a child care agency. I remember feeling happy every time I came home from every child care center I worked at. Then I knew that’s where I needed to start. I started job searching for every child care center where a job position was available. I went to many interviews, and I landed a Montessori child care teaching position. My job as a special education preschool teacher was done and I moved back with my parents. I haven’t looked back since.
When I finally started my first day as a Montessori teacher, it was the complete opposite of what I experienced as a special education teacher before the pandemic and the stay at home order was initiated. My new co-workers and my new boss were extremely nice, and everyone got along. Just within that day, I knew that being a teacher at a Montessori school was where I needed to be. And that’s only the beginning. Things finally started to look up.
Success is hard work and oftentimes, you will make many mistakes along the way, and that’s okay. I believe everyone has their own path to take, and whichever one you choose, make sure it’s worth it. You got this!
[iframe src=”//giphy.com/embed/b5WsjNpMc35za” width=”480″ height=”264″ frameBorder=”0″]
Easy A GIF via GIPHY