Some months ago I felt the need to process my choice of leaving. So now what?
I struggle every day to feel I have purpose. I’ve begun to just say I am on sabbatical. I live paycheck to paycheck and am familiar with the inner working on how to get food stamps and then how those food stamps can be reduced to $16/month when I take a “higher” paying job (whoo $2 more per hour).
I ride my bike to reduce bus costs so I can pay for my groceries. I have no health insurance and am lucky to have found good care at a sliding scale clinic.
My massive amounts of student loans are on deferment.
The pros are that I have had time. Time to do things I always wanted like plant a garden, take voice jazz lessons, redo my backyard, paint in the house, reconnect with old friends and am gearing up to paint the exterior of the house.
I’ve taking up cooking a bit more again.
I’ve learned to just say I am on my gap year.
But…oh and there is always a “but.”
Slinging the java bean has its limits for excitement and purpose. I long to continue in education but I know for my own health I cannot step foot back in the classroom. I feel quilty for not having been able to hack it while I see and hear of my colleagues fighting the good fight.
I’d have thought I’d have been decided and over my decision by now. But the truth is, I am in mourning. I left behind stability and a piece of my heart.
That said, there have been many lessons in finding the bright side of having walked away. I still stay connected by working with a wonderful group of educators around education policy. I’m still passionate as ever about education issues.
Though me and my self-worth like to wrestle now and then–am I irrelevant? What do I do now?
It hit me the other day, I’m in mourning. Though I gave up a career, I also gave up a lot of stability. I am neither angry or frustrated by my own choice. I accept it. But is isn’t stress free. I’ve come to know what it must feel like to be somewhat poor. I’m thankful for the free meal I get at work every lunch so I don’t have to spend what little I make on one more meal in the day.
This is not a oh pity me post. It is, for me, a record of what my “gap” year is teaching me. I’ve learned to be resilient, positive and to keep my humor about me. I am so grateful for the little things like a friend offering me a ride, helping me run an errand b/c I am at work and for cooking me dinner.
My gap year has given me time. And I’m ever so slowly healing. I’m reminded of a long ago motto from my high school years by one Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path,
and leave a trail.