Monday, October 29, 2012

Confessions of a Quitter

Last summer I decided that it was time to leave my job.  The decision was made late in the summer, so I began my tenth year of teaching late August.  Throughout that year I continuously thought that teaching one year was one of the worst decisions I had ever made.  I now realize that suffering through that year solidified my decision to leave.

There were an array of reasons that led me to leaving.  An intense focus on testing and data, increased direct instruction with a decreased student engagement, and the demand for teachers to become robots were a few.  There are some people that can work in a toxic work environment and overcome it.  Others, like me, are crippled by negativity that fills a work place like toxic war gas.  We can feel it so strongly that it consumes us, making it more and more difficult to ignore its presence. Over time it infiltrates your senses; a once positive and upbeat person becomes beaten down, cynical (or even more so), and crotchety.

By the time I had decided to resign I was fifty pounds heavier, required two asthma pumps, and had zero stamina.  I had lost my passion for teaching; dreading it.  The creative spark that used to energize me was absent.  My patience was replaced with a sharp, angry tongue.  I did not, could not, like the person I had become.  

Here's the thing about making a decision like that.  
  • Only you can make it.  I knew that I was no longer the person I used to be.  People can change, but when they change for the worse, it's time to act.
  • Everyone has an unsolicited opinion.  Their intentions are good, they love you and worry about you.  They are concerned about things like money, health insurance, and your marriage.  However ... these are their fears, not yours.
  • You feel free.  All you can do is be yourself, know what you believe in, and stand by it.   I truly realized that you can not please everyone, but the most important person to make (and keep) happy is yourself.  
  • You look free.  I immediately lost eight pounds, no longer needed either inhaler, slept better, had healthy looking skin (again), among other benefits.  I have had numerous people tell me how great I look.  They can't quit place what it is, but I look great.  (I know what it is - I am happy.) 
It's not easy making a decision to resign or quit.  Especially with the current economy leaving so many without work.  I could no longer sacrifice my happiness, my well-being, or my marriage for a paycheck.  I have work for now, and I'll have more (find more) work to do when I am done.  And every time someone asks if it was worth it, all I can say is YES.