You know the saying, “life comes at you fast?” Well, since completing my undergraduate studies, life has been moving at light-speed. No more than 2 hours after crossing that stage in the middle of my alma mater’s football stadium on May 18, 2013, everybody asked, “So will/when are you going back?” and “What’s next?” And at that moment, and for the two summer months that were to come, my only response was, “I don’t know. Can’t I just take a moment to breathe and enjoy myself for a little?” I mean I’d just spent 5 hellish years in Baltimore, Maryland aka The Devil’s Asshole, USA. I was exhausted. I didn’t even want to think about being in school for another two years. So, with that, I packed my shit, left Baltimore and headed home to New York for a post grad summer. It was fun, but it was over sooner than I would’ve liked it to be. And with it’s end, came the inevitable return of the “what now?” Only this time, I was the one asking myself that question.
It has been two years since I’ve completed my undergraduate matriculation and those two years have had their share of ups and downs in all aspects of my life. But the professional and financial sides are the parts of my life that I always stress myself out about most. After the summer of 2013 came to a close, I began grappling with the idea of what I would be doing with myself career wise. I’d earned my BA in English with a concentration in creative writing and the only thing it’s gotten me is 92K worth of student loan debt. I had no idea how to put this expensive ass accomplishment to good use.
I love writing. I love reading. I love words. But after coming home, I remembered that hobbies don’t pay the bills. At least not for me. At least not yet. I’d have to get “a real job.” Along with my reality check, where my student loan debt served as the gratuity that nobody ordered, came a doggy bag filled with post grad style depression. Yum. I felt like a bum. I wasn’t working anymore since my summer gig ended when the summer did, I was broke and my mother was reminding me every day that I’d be getting my first letter from Sallie Mae soon. At that point any job would do. And I got one. You guys remember, right? Nordstrom? Yeah. Retail proved to be a hell almost as bad as living in Baltimore. Sure, the money was decent, but I was miserable and I didn’t go to school to sell old bitches hosiery. But, as all of you also know, I was fired within a month. It was hidden blessing, really. Right after being let go from that slave ship, I stumbled upon what I’d later realize was my calling.
You guys already know this too, so this is just a recap, but I started working part-time at an afterschool program as a tutor about a month after Nordstrom dumped me. The hours were trash and the money barely covered my financial responsibilities, but I’d had it in my mind that some income was better than no income at all and that I’d just do what I had to do for the time being until I worked out a plan to get a better job that better suited my needs. At this point I was still lost on where the fuck I saw myself 10 years from now. I needed money. That’s all I knew or even cared about. The depression hadn’t subsided. I was still crying every week and had convinced myself that I’d racked up all this debt for nothing. And without noticing, I was started to accept that about myself. The jobs I was applying for to replace the one I had at that moment were still bullshit jobs that surely didn’t put my degree to use. I was being lazy, a character trait that I’ve owned my entire life. Only I didn’t look at it that way until recently. But while I was searching for new employment opportunities, I was unknowingly learning that I loved working with kids. I loved helping them learn. And while having a conversation with a friend of mine about my day at work with a child I’d been working with, he pointed something out to me.
“Sounds like this is something you’re meant to do,” he told me.
Bing! It did sound that way, didn’t it? The way these kids mattered to me wasn’t something I actually paid attention to but it was pretty clear that I cared deeply for them and that I found joy in helping them succeed academically. People always asked me if I wanted to be a teacher once they learned I had an English degree, but I’d always responded indifferently because I was focused on being an author. But look! Unbeknownst to be, I’d found something new to be passionate about. So it was then that I decided that I’d pursue it.
I won’t lie and say that from that moment on I got right to work on becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, it took some shit going wrong for me to get my shit right. The school I worked at offered me a full time position a few months after my conversation with my friend happened and I began getting comfortable in my mediocrity. There was talk of my moving up at the school but it wouldn’t have been much of an accomplishment looking back at it now. However, God makes you uncomfortable when He wants you to grow. And so after two years of employment at that school, they fired me this August off some bullshit. And let me tell you, unemployment is uncomfortable as hell. But thanks to another friend (my mother thinks we should send him a thank you card. She’s sweet.), I was given an opportunity to get into my career.
It’s been two weeks at my new school and I’m in love with it. After my first visit, I knew that it was where I wanted to be. And after I received my official offer to join their team, I committed myself to working at this shit. It’s A LOT of work. I missed the month’s worth of training workshops that my colleagues had attended in August, so I’m playing catch up. Not to mention, I have to wake up at 4:00 AM Mon-Fri to get to work. But I learned that when you find something you want badly enough, you will put in the work and step out of your comfort zone in order to get it done. Plus, receiving a salary pay with benefits as well as a getting a little help paying for classes to earn my M.A in Education (I enroll August 2016) isn’t a bad motivation factor. I’ve been leading reading and writing lessons in a classroom full of kids and I’m having a blast doing so! I’m helping children learn to love something that I already love. I finally know what it feels like to enjoy going to work.
I always seem to find myself starting over in some way when my summers come to a close. As the weather shifts so does something in my life. Funny how that works. But this time, when I was left asking myself, “what now?” I had an answer. I’m happy to say that I know what to do now and that I’m just anxious start working at it.