One of the hardest adult decisions I’ve made was deciding to leave a career I’d thought I was meant to do. In 2016, I enrolled in the gruesome New York City Teaching Fellows. It’s a program that brings career changers and recent graduate students into NYC classrooms to teach critical-need subject areas, including English, special education, and math.
I decided to join the NYCTF in 2016 because I’d thought I was meant to be a teacher–it was my favorite game to play as a child. After six weeks, of what seemed like hell, I passed and completed the program and got a job at a school in the South Bronx to teach sixth grade Engish. But after six months, I resigned from my position as a teacher and fellow.
I quit because I was unhappy and knew from the first week I’d begun the fellowship, but couldn’t admit it, partly because I’d left a great job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to become a teacher. I thought that if I gave it a chance, I’d eventually like it. Over time, I developed insomnia, hardly ate, and had constant anxiety.
Deciding to quit was hard, but it was the best decisions I made. For the first time, I made a decision that felt right. Imagine if I’d kept a career that made me miserable for the rest of my life because of fear of quitting and starting over?
Fear is a big factor for the reason why many remain in a job that is terrible. But, there is nothing scarier than staying in a profession that makes you unhappy. Yes, having a secure job is essential, but doing something that matters to you and passionate about is a fantastic aspiration and experience.
Below are five ways to motivate and inspire you to make a change in your career and life.
1. Make a list of things you like and dislike about your current job.
Making a list can give you a definitive perspective. If your con list surpasses the pro, it means that you may have to make necessary changes to your career.
2. Take a moment and ask yourself:
What would make me happy? What do I imagine myself doing? What motives me? What are my passions?
3. Follow your instincts.
Instinct allows you to get the first warning signs when anything is off in your body so that you can address it. If you have a gut feeling about your body — that something is toxic, weak or ‘off’ — listen to it. Chances are, you know the answer to what would make you happy.
4. Do not let fear hold you back.
Living in fear is dangerous. If you live in fear, you are not living at all because it is not allowing you to experience life. It is making you a pessimist because you are hiding from the world and overthinking the worst. Ask yourself, are you going to let fear make you cynical and define who you are? NO!
5. Change is necessary!
Part of being human and growing up is accepting the changes around you, within you, and generally, in life.
Deciding to change your career is difficult. But if you know you are unhappy and unwell, do yourself a favor, take care of yourself and do what is best for you. Cliche, do not allow fear hold you back because sadly life is too short and you only live once. Don’t waste it! Life is full of possibilities.
What made you resign your position as a teacher and fellowship?
There are many reasons; the top three reasons though was first to take care of myself because I was living an unhealthy lifestyle. Second, many schools do not have funds for school supplies, and teachers spend their own money. I wound up spending between $300 – $500 a month. Lastly, I was unhappy, and to be a good teacher, you have to like it; it is impossible to teach well if you are pretending to. You are working with children, and they sense everything.
How long did it take you to get another job?
It took six weeks. I first started a part-time job at a tutoring company because I needed the money while looking for something else. Then after a month working as a tutor, I interviewed for the Administrative position at the Rubin Museum of Art and got the job.
How did you support yourself? Did you have money saved?
When I decided to quit, I needed time to determine if it was the right decision. So, I took a leave of absence, which still paid me. And yes, I had money saved which helped pay my rent. But, once I definitively decided, I had already accepted my position at the Rubin.
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