Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Not a Career; It's a Calling

I'm not gonna lie - sometimes teaching kind of sucks. Oh, sometimes it's AWESOME, don't get me wrong. But sometimes it sucks.

Like when you're trying to see your way through the pile of 95 summer reading essays you have to grade, and realizing that you're already behind on your grading, even though it's only the first day of school.

Or when you're fighting the daily uphill battle to get the kids to stop making faces at each other across the room and just listen to what you're trying to say already.

Or when you hear the kids call you a b*tch when they think no one's listening, because they don't realize that someone's always listening.

Yeah, sometimes it really sucks.

But we push through, because what other choice do we have? Sure, you say, "Well, you could just quit. Get a different job. Do something else to pay the bills instead." But no, I can't. Not really. Because if I'm being honest, it's not really a job, and so I can't really just quit.

It's a calling, and you don't quit a calling.

You don't just go out one day and pick up a new calling. It's not like buying a new pair of boots (which I did yesterday) or a new purse (I did that yesterday too). You don't just browse the Craigslist listings one afternoon hoping to find someone selling a calling on the cheap. And for as much as I love me some Starbucks, I've yet to see them start stocking callings in their little refrigerated shelved section with the berry parfaits and pasta salads.

When it's your calling, you can't just turn your back on it, and teaching is most definitely a calling. I could try something new, but it wouldn't be the same, and even when it SUCKS, I know that deep down. I know that nothing else would be as good. Nothing else would move me the same way, or give me the same sense of accomplishment - accomplishment that comes not from anything inherent in myself or my abilities, but from knowing that I used my abilities in the right way, to do the right thing. Ignoring my calling to do something that earns more money, or more acclaim, or more time off... it would just be a terrible trade. Because a calling fills your heart in ways that money, acclaim, and time off just can't.

I think some folks around me are getting a little fed of me and my "attitude" about how much my job kind of sucks right now. I can't deny it: I've had a bit of an attitude. Because, remember? It sucks. So yeah, when people ask how I'm doing, I will admit that I'm stressed and a bit pretty very unhappy, because I try to be honest with my friends, whether work friends or not.

But the "what sucks" is not all I see. It's really not. I see that it's a calling, and I work on being positive and thanking God every day, not just for giving me such a clear calling, but for His promise that He'll be by my side every day helping me fulfill that calling. I see how lucky I am to get to do something I love every day, even if I don't love every single part of it. I see how cool it is that I get to play an active role in changing the lives of my students every day. I really do see all that.

So yes, it sucks sometimes - I won't deny that, and I probably won't even stop complaining about that. But it's not just my job, it's not just a paycheck, and it's not just a career.

It's a calling, and you don't quit a calling.


Rachel said...

No, you certainly don't quit a calling.

I'm a bit older than you and it took me forever to find mine. Unfortunately, it doesn't garner much of a paycheck or time off at this point. It's the whole diabetes/mental health/chronic illness advocacy thing.

So for now, I have a job on the side that does give me a paycheck.

My point? You are so very lucky to have your calling be your career - the career that allows for a paycheck and time off (even though inflexible).

And no, callings aren't perfect. But what is perfect in life?

Still Jill B said...

I'm with you, but just a reminder to file away in your head (I don't want to start a rash of the "get out" talk again, but I do want you to keep this filed away in case you need it someday). Sometimes your calling changes, and one indicator is that what you're doing is "killing" you. I'm still processing my job-change a few years ago, and there were absolutely things I brought to it, and I could have convinced myself to continue on with it, but I probably wouldn't be functioning on a reasonable level anymore.

I just want you to look out for you, because we love you too much.

Stefka said...

I have a similar perspective on my "calling" which is in the non-profit sector. I had a rough few years transitioning out of a really dysfunctional organization, and dealing with depression fall-out from said dysfunctional org (which on top of everything else, paid me diddly-squat).

Anyway, it was a mess, and I spent 2006 - 2009 in a fog of underemployment, depression, and debt, struggling through a combination of consulting/temp/part-time work (boy were those taxes fun!)...and doing much soul searching about my "calling". During this period, however, facing my depression led to incredible insights, and the opportunity to finally understand and move past key issues affecting all aspects of my life since childhood. (In my case, undiagnosed ADD.)

This past December, the universe gifted me with the perfect job at an organization that is the antithesis of the place I was working before. I mean, if I could have written my perfect job for this point in time, this would be it!

So hang in there - but remember that there are many paths and ways to fulfill your calling. Yes, there are times we need to slog through the trenches in the name of personal growth, BUT we also need to look out for our best interests, and not settle for less than we deserve. It's a fine line - but it seems like you already recognize that.

PS - your haircut looks fantastic!

Clair said...

It's hard to explain sometimes, isn't it, that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, and you just need to ride out the lousy parts. Good luck! You are incredibly lucky to have found your calling.

Unrelated, I love the three pair of pants you wore at the end of the week. Where did you get them?

bernthis said...

i've wanted to walk away from acting and writing for forever but I can't. I wish I could b/c there are many many sucky things about it but, like you, for me, it's a calling

BTW- sending u a big hug and kiss and I love the outfit. I think the haircut really makes it all come together.

BetteJo said...

Hmm .. I wonder if I have a calling .. or if I'm meant to find it late in life. I've been very fortunate to enjoy what I do for years but - it is just a job.