2007 is Quarterlife Crisis year at AskMe!
February 8, 2007 9:17 AM Subscribe
I just left Teach for America....and I think I might be professionally ineffective for the rest of my life
Before anyone launches into a searing tirade about my inability to uphold commitments and how heartless I am....please don't. The TFA staff has already done a great job for you, so that would really be pretty useless, and it's got little to do with the actual question I've got. No one who joins the program thinks they'll step into their classroom and have an easy time, and I certainly didn't think I would. And yes, I know I should have done more research about any potential work situation (although I wish I'd had a say in my school placement), and I've learned to do that. So I'm learning from the experience, and looking towards the future.
But in that regard, I'm worried that after this experience, I'm never going to be professionally ambitious or really, usable at all in the workplace again. Currently, my only requirements for a new job are:
1. No one threatening physical harm, or actually trying to assault me or the other people in my workplace
2. A workplace whose management can take effective action regarding people who threaten violence
3. A work situation that doesn't result in a daily half-hour crying jag. Yes, I know that's a mindset issue; I'm working on it, but it didn't happen before, and it doesn't happen now.
4. A wage that doesn't require my dipping into savings to get by on the monthly bills. (Normally, a childless unmarried teacher would be okay, but post-NCLB we had to pay for our own credentialing to keep our jobs; being under 24 with no prior full-time, permanent job meant the credentialing program rejected my trying to file for aid as an independent student, and since summer training is unpaid, I didn't have any summer earnings to help with the credentialing tuition, my parents couldn't help after helping with four years of college, and Americorps awards for are only applicable to federal loans and are given at the END of your service anyway...it was something of a bureaucratic nightmare.)
I know that as far as job-searching goes, I should be looking for things like, "room for advancement," or "opportunity to learn new skills," but those just seem like frills that I'd be lucky to have, and I feel selfish for wanting those things when there are millions of kids who are still in the sorts of schools I taught in, especially when the poor state of said schools has been facilitated by yours truly. Anyhow, you could argue that those criteria for a new job indicate that I've got a confidence/guilt issue now, and that I am probably very burned out.
I'm lucky to have enough money saved up not to worry about living expenses for several months, and I had the sense to take care of the health insurance issue immediately. I don't want to travel and possibly end up in another situation all alone and crying (say, when my passport is stolen in Prague). Besides, I like being close to my non-TFA friends here.
So my actual question is: what can I do for the next few months while I job search to regain my confidence and make myself emotionally and mentally ready for the workplace again? Could anyone recommend some good short-term endeavors that would help me ease back into a working state, and provide some perspective on life?