07/07/2014 10:40 BST | Updated 03/09/2014 06:59 BST

Why I Said No to the Job


This year was a rough year work-wise and mental health-wise. My teaching assistant job caused me so much stress that I became physically ill and had to take a leave of absence. Due to yearly budget cuts, I was riffed, (honorably discharged), prior to this. I took it in stride, knowing that this is what happens yearly, but also knowing that after 6 years of being a teaching assistant, I had absolutely no desire to return to it. I earned my teaching certification over a year ago, and at first, I was so excited to teach; now, after seeing all of the political and bureaucratic bullshit involved, the idea repulses me. Teaching summer school the past couple of years has been kind of alright because there aren't any standardized tests or government dictates involved. I've been able to construct my own curriculum and focus on the kids. Alas, I digress. Despite having taken a 5 week medical leave at the end of the school year from my assistant job, I was called by the district and offered my assistant job back. I responded with a polite and firm, "No, thank you."

Allow me to break down all the reasons I said no to the security of a full-time job.

1) For the past decade, the desire to work for myself has periodically surfaced, and I've repeatedly squashed it in order to follow societal norms of practicality. This year, the desire resurfaced so strongly that I've decided not to squash my entrepreneurial desires any longer.

2) I need to play by my own rules. I am a free spirit who can't be caged. All I've seen in education the past several years is the cage surrounding teachers and schools becoming more constricted; I can't breathe or flourish in those conditions.

3) I need to create my own schedule. Having a mind like mine that's prone to anxiety and OCD but is also creative, I need to be able to have the freedom to do and produce in my own time.

4) Speaking of my OCD...I noticed that during my 5 week leave of absence from my job when I was working on getting mentally, emotionally, and physically healthier, my OCD nearly dissipated. My thoughts weren't overrun with intrusive, irrational negativity, and the repetitive, ritualistic hell I had been putting myself through basically ceased to exist. It was incredible. During these past 4 weeks of returning to work to teach summer school, however, the OCD returned and with brute force. I've been feeling raw and exposed, more receptive to the negative rush of awful thoughts. Thankfully, summer school ended yesterday, (not a day too soon), and I can now start rebuilding my strength. I can start the healing process once more.

5) During my 5 week leave, I learned with vehemence what I need to do to take care of myself and make my life happy. Working for someone else simply won't fit into that equation.

6) My dream is to write for a living. I've rediscovered this part of me, this passion, this dream earlier this year that had lain dormant for so long. I never believed I was good enough or worthy to pursue this path, but I now realize that I am. I am worthy to pursue whatever my heart desires, and so I will.

7) I do have my safety nets of doing hair and tutoring thanks to my licenses in both cosmetology and education. I will make an income doing those things as I continue to pursue my writing dreams. Hopefully, one day, an income will come from the writing, but in the mean time, I'll get your hairs did and teach your children by my own terms.

By my own terms...I really like the sound of that. Admittedly, I have my moments of brief panic when the thought of not having a routine, daily assurance of a job working for someone else hits me. Then I realize that said job paid crap, made me really unhappy, and didn't allow me to pursue the joys I truly love. I want to live a life I love, and I want, no, I NEED, to do it my way.

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