So it’s been 3 weeks since my last post, my apologies. I blame the last week of Term 2 and school holidays. And as much as I want to say that I spent those weeks relaxing, and being too lazy or ceebs to blog, I can’t. I’m not sure what I’ve been doing but whatever it is, it has rendered me busy to the point that I haven’t had much time for myself – which is normally the time I use to reflect and unpack my incoherent thoughts. So to make up for my 3 week hiatus, this one is going to be a long one.
Going into my 3rd term of casual teaching since graduating, I thought it was about time I wrote about my journey – how I got exactly where I am right now in my career, and that is – happy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always happy days. There are still days when I question whether everything I sacrificed and risked to get here was worth it. But honestly, I feel proud knowing that I’m thoroughly satisfied in my career at the age of 30 – and this is only the beginning!
I’ve had a few people ask me a few questions regarding this, questions like – where did you start? how did you know the timing was right? how did you know it was worth it? how much did you have in your savings before you quit your job? do you ever regret it? Well this is my attempt to answer all your questions in 6 terrifying and overwhelming steps.. aka
HOW TO BE HAPPY IN YOUR CAREER 101
Find something you love and figure out a way to make a living out of it.
On September 20, 2012 my first niece and goddaughter,Claire Jayne, was born. The moment she came into this world was the moment I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes for her to know everything beautiful that this world has to offer. The only way I knew I could do that, apart from being her auntie and godmother, was to also be a teacher. This sparked the first light.
Teaching was always in the back of my mind since my second year of Uni while I was trying to finish off my first degree in Bachelor of Nursing. But all I wanted to do was to grow up and be an adult – get a job, move out and rake in the cash. So I did. I completely ignored that shining possibility to be a teacher because I thought it would be too late. It wasn’t until my niece was born that made me realise that I could be destined for something far greater than my own adulting. I loved CJ so much that her presence in this world inspired me to teach and mould young children like her into decent human beings.
If there’s something you love doing – preferably something that not only excites you and betters you, but also benefits others – think about whether this is something you can do for the rest of your life (or for a really long time). And by that I mean, can this nourish you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically and financially? If so, you’re well on your way.
Be prepared to put in the hard yards.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. You see, I was well on my way up the corporate ladder in this corporate world. Even though I finished a degree in Nursing, I didn’t pursue it as I didn’t think I had the heart to be a nurse. It was way too emotional for me (Nurses are our unsung heroes!). So instead I made my way into Injury Management, from Administration to Case Management. Next thing I knew I was being offered management roles in other non-insurance companies and I was basically living ‘the dream’. I had moved out of home, had my own assets and had a high paying job. But there was still a sense of emptiness and purposelessness (yes, that’s a word!) in this. It was a year after that first spark was lit, I’m not sure what it was but that desire to do something more just grew.
This left me in a bit of a pickle. Was I willing to let go of everything just to start all over again? Was pursuing this ridiculous desire, which I knew could have only come from something far kinder than me because I’m not that good of a person – was it really worth losing ‘the dream’? Was I ready to put in the hard yards? After a lot of thought, I realised the excitement was greater than my fears and worries. So at the age of 27, I applied for my Masters in Teaching Primary/Graduate Certificate in Religious Education, and got accepted. Praise the Lord! But if you think that taking that massive leap was the hard part, it wasn’t! The next 2.5 years was the hardest. But it was totally worth it. With a lot of hard work, late nights, prayers and my family and friends – I somehow got through it all.
If this thing that you love, the thing that you’re willing to give up everything for, if you’re not willing to put in the hard yards to make it work – then start again.
Organise yourself financially.
This is where I failed, hard. Even though I was living ‘the dream’, I was very stupid with my money. I hardly had any savings so when I quit my high paying full time job, the financial consequences hit me like a tonne of bricks. So to sort myself out, I moved back home and got myself low paying retail jobs to pay the bills. I knew that that’s all I could get considering the flexibility I needed for uni and eventually doing my teaching prac days. It definitely sufficed! In fact, these jobs even got me through a trip to New York, Europe and twice to the Philippines. I think I got really good at saving (and starving myself) that I managed to save for a few holidays. Surprisingly, this was something I never got to do while I was living ‘the dream’.
I definitely had it easy. I had loving parents who let me move back home. I also had no dependants so the only person that was going to starve was me. This is probably where people stop and realise they can’t do it. But trust me, it’s possible! Just be smart about your money.
GO DO IT!
Seriously, just do it! Feel the fear, and do it anyway! It’s gonna be scary and daunting and at times you’ll question it all. You will have really crappy days and you will have multiple breakdowns but if you’ve done the first 3 steps then you can totally do this! No better time than the present. This is all from experience. I wouldn’t advocate this if I hadn’t gone through it myself. Ask my friends and family if you don’t believe me. I’m not much of a risk taker but this was the best risk I’ve ever taken and the only time I’ve looked back was to remember how far I’ve come. You gaaattt diis!!!
Don’t let anyone take it away from you.
The other day, after work, I was talking to a friend who I met at uni and who I’m now working with. She’s essentially my boss but I’ve come to know her as someone I can really relate to because we’re at the same stage in our lives. She said something that pretty much inspired this whole 6 step process. She told me that sometimes there are certain pressures that makes her consider stopping teaching and focusing on her growing business. She then assured me that she didn’t have to teach, but she wants to because, and she said this with conviction, “This is what I was put in this world to do, to teach – so I’m not gonna stop now”.
What an inspiration. This is someone who pretty much has it all – but still chooses to hold on to the thing she loves to do simply because she knows it’s her passion, her reason, her purpose. This is the kind of attitude we need.
If you’ve gotten this far – Congratulations! But it doesn’t end here. There will be days when the pressures of the world, whether it be financial, status or even our own insecurities, will tempt us to let go of our purpose, just so that we could earn more, or live according to what people expect of us. This is the time when we have to hold on to it even tighter. You can’t let anyone take it away from you – because this is YOURS.
Offer it up. #AMDG
This step might seem a bit confusing because the previous step was to not let go of your passion, but this one says to offer it up. Let me explain, firstly, this isn’t the last step. In fact it should actually be intertwined within all the other steps. Secondly, whether you believe in God, the universe or something far greater than yourself – you gotta offer it up. I’ve broken down countless times throughout this process because I’m human and I’m imperfect. I know without a doubt that I couldn’t have done it on my own. Every time I had a bad night, I offered it up. Every time I had a bad teaching day, I offered it up. Every time I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay off that phone bill, I offered it up. And sure enough, God provides.
This is why it’s important to make sure that whatever your passion is, you can’t just do it for you and you alone. This is definitely your purpose, but when the going gets tough – knowing that you’re doing this for the benefit of other people, other than yourself, is what’s going to get you through that bad day.
So that’s it! I feel like as a disclaimer I have to say that just because I was able to get through all of this and come out happy, it doesn’t mean that I have life figured out – because I really don’t. My career is only one aspect of my life – albeit, an important one. And I am fully aware that much like all fires, the light that is fuelling this passion, this purpose might burn low. It might even die altogether. But at least I’ll be somewhat prepared for my next one.
I hope this helped! If not, I hope it was at least entertaining. And if you’re still looking for your passion, I really hope you find it! There’s nothing more exhilarating than living it.
AMDG, – M.