How Did I Get Here?

Do you ever sit down and think about why you do what you do, for work I mean?

I always wonder why I work where I do. Every time I found myself unemployed, I would have to ask what will I do? What do I want to do? Even now after a pause I ask, “How the heck???” I am not working in the specified area that I planned for myself while still young and idealistic. When I ponder how I got where I am it seems strange and convoluted.

I originally entered college as a business major but quickly changed to an education major after one semester. My 80 year old retired business professor may have had something to do with the change. He could make standing in a fire sound boring. Most likely I changed because I wanted to be a teacher at the tender age of ten.

I taught just about every age group in two states. Learning along the way that one year contracts suck. A one year contract does not guarantee a position will be open for you the following year.  After two years away from the classroom, I find myself supporting GED students and homeless teens, one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever done. But, I never imagined I would do what I am doing, let alone find total enjoyment in my life. Perhaps that is why I never found my fit, my niche. This is my place, and all that I have done before shaped me to fit perfectly.

My current position found me. While doing a student intervention, I subbed as an educational assistant for 30 days to work with a young person who had been suspended from school. As a result, I got to know the programs taking place in my community center. Better yet, they got to know me. Two months later, someone called to ask if I still needed a job. Yep, I did. So I began working with my non-profit. While working with them, another program in the center asked if I was interested in working with GED students part time. Sure. Many of my students are supported by my non-profit. It is a wonderful mix of who I am. Business, education, compassion, and mentoring. I love working with these young people in a nontraditional manner.

How about you, what paths have you taken that prepared you for what you are doing today? Where do you think your life experiences will take you in the future?

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Pursuing life to its fullest. A woman, a mom, wife, and struggling teacher who knows the importance of treating myself right.

8 thoughts on “How Did I Get Here?”

  1. I wanted to be all kinds of things growing up (ballerina, artist, Broadway star, Egyptologist, marine biologist), and by the time I transferred from community college to a private university, I realized I wasn’t going to be any of those things–event though they still all sound like fun. :) I decided I wanted to work overseas, probably with an organization like Peace Corps, and I thought I would make for a better candidate if I had a degree that I could use, so I chose to major in English with a concentration in TESL.

    While in college, I felt God call me to a life of ministry (if you’re not spiritual/religious, sorry if this sounds weird to you!), and I decided to keep my degree because I strongly believe in bringing practical skills alongside ministerial ones. Then I graduated from college and couldn’t find work in my field, so I worked at a Boys and Girls Club for a year, working split shift and trying to make ends meet. Then I worked in a hotel as a supervisor in their housekeeping department once I couldn’t physically handle working my crazy hours. I was there until very recently when I transitioned to another custodial job–this one at a local tech company–that gave me guaranteed, set hours, a regular weekend and holidays off, and free meals to boot. (YAY!) At almost the same time, my husband and I joined a church staff part time, and I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.

    The last (almost) four years of my life have felt crazy, unsettled, and almost like I was in limbo, and now I feel like everything fits. I was even able to recently use my TESL education to tutor a delightful Peruvian woman with her English skills. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use TESL again in my current situation, but until then, I feel great about where I am! And yeah, life sometimes takes you on odd paths!

  2. I often wonder “how did I get here”, but mostly in a perplexed, “should this have been harder?” kind of a way. I never thought I’d be getting my phd at this point. I’m really glad that I am and love the circumstances under which it all panned out, but there are still parts of my brain that find it hard to believe that I’m really here, doing this great work, that I’m being way more “professional” and an “expert in my field” than I thought I’d ever be. Sometimes, it all seems a little ridiculous how it’s all worked out.

    I’m a very experiential-learning driven person. I completely blame my incredibly varied past experiences for getting me the skills that have gotten me this far. And I make sure I keep actively seeking out new things, experiences, and ideas to make sure that I’ll be ready for whatever I head into in the future.

    1. Wow a Phd!  Good for you.  I don’t think I will pursue that degree at this time.  I still have to pay off my m.ed.  I would love to continue my education, I thrive in the school environment.  But I am like you, love learning new things all the time.

  3. I am definitely a student of philosophy, and I dearly, dearly hope that once I get my PhD, I will be able to find work as a professor, because I don’t know what the fuck else to do with my life. A lot of my peers came into college interested in philosophy, but it took me until the end of my second year in undergrad to realize it was my calling.

    Basically, I had switched between a couple majors and numerous ideas of what I wanted to do with myself, because I found that, while I thought this or that was what I wanted to do, the further I got into it the less I wanted to do it. It really hit when I tried taking upper-level classes in these areas. I ended up entirely disinterested. It was distressing, because by that point I needed to find something.

    But I ended up taking an upper-level philosophy class, Medieval Philosophy, on a whim. I needed something to fit my schedule, and none of my required courses really fit. So, I checked out the philosophy class listings, saw it there, and went “Oh, I loved King Arthur and other medieval crap!”

    Of course, once I got into the class, it was nothing like any other medieval stuff I’d studied before. But it was fun. It was the best academic experience of my life. And I call it that because it showed me just how much I loved the subject, and that it was really meant for me.

    They tell you that if you’re going to go to grad school in philosophy (at least in the US), that you should be certain you couldn’t imagine yourself doing anything else, because employment is scarce. And it is entirely possible I could spend over ten years through the entire college process from freshman undergraduate year to the end of my PhD dissertation…and then not find any work. At all.

    It scares me…but I try not to think about it. Because this really is my life’s passion. I say that if I happened to win the lottery and be able to live comfortably for the rest of my life, I would still be doing this. And it’s true. Unfortunately, I know there’s a lot of privilege in being able to chase your dreams. I just hope I don’t end up falling flat on my face!

    1. So awesome that you knew what you were going to do and are doing it!  What are you doing, if I may ask??

      I think my problem is I am so eclectic in personality that there are many things I would enjoy doing, so I could never say this is it and stay there. I did have that single minded passion for teaching, that was all I was ever going to do, which is why I have not completely given up the classroom.

      1. Assistant professor of languages.  I knew I wanted to major in linguistics or math in college, and during one of our first meetings in college, I remember a French teacher spoke to us about “doing what you had passion for,” and kind of dreaming.  But then things got in the way, paths diverged, I taught middle school math, worked as a 911 dispatcher, edited a newspaper, worked in a law firm (oh wait, two law firms), worked a looooong time in customer service, did some internet proof-reading…and now I’m a professor.  I didn’t think it would be possible to get here, but I kept coming back to it.  I absolutely love it (thus far).

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