I'm not so great at the unknown.
May 7, 2013 9:32 AM   Subscribe

How do I do this "taking a breather" thing?

Hey y'all,

As a look at my posting history will tell you, I have had one hell of a year. Despite injuring my back and THEN injuring my foot in the recovery process last year, I have managed to get through my incredibly intensive two-year MA program in the humanities (assuming I finish these final papers!) on time, with perfectly good grades and references from professors and supervisors. But both my head and body are a complete mess. I feel completely overwhelmed and drained from this entire process, and my back and foot, while a whole lot better, could definitely use some R&R.

Furthermore, this whole thing has unfortunately taken a very rough toll on my relationship with my live-in partner. The crippling physical pain of the injuries and the even more crippling depression I've been experiencing, along withe the more mundane stresses of living together and being in grad school, have been more difficult than either of us could possibly have imagined. He's accepted a tenure-track position for the fall in a different city, and, as sad as this makes me and as much as we love each other, neither one of us thinks that my following him there or our committing our lives to each other is a good idea right now. So basically, I am looking out at a great total unknown, in every single area of my life.

While I've done some networking and job applying, I have not been doing it as diligently as I know I need to. I could say it's because I haven't had time, but I know I am simply not in the right head space. When confronted with anxiety like this, my tendency is sometimes to avoid it and get stuck in paralysis mode. I am not even sure what I WANT to do now - academia is definitely not for me. What I WOULD like to do is take a bit of a breather. I definitely need a job of some kind, to feed myself and to have something to do to occupy my time and energy. (And to have health insurance!)
I haven't ruled out high school teaching - in fact, I think with more teaching practice, I might be quite good at it. But I have very little experience and no state certification (yet!), so getting a job like that for this coming fall seems unlikely. Would it be the worst thing in the world to look for some very mundane, unrelated job for next year, supplemented by tutoring or volunteering or whatever else I can cobble together, while I figure out what to do next?

Oddly enough, I feel optimistic about my prospects for the first time in a long time, though maybe this is just foolish naivete. I'm finally on medication that seems to be working, and I hope these experiences have made me stronger. I know that I have skills, networks, and resources - but I definitely don't want to slip back into depression while being unemployed. Will this be a resume gap that I'll be able to eventually explain to potential employers? How can I do this "taking a break" thing right, so that I get closer to figuring out what I actually want instead of further away and more depressed?

Thanks, as always.
posted by bookgirl18 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oddly enough, I feel optimistic about my prospects for the first time in a long time, though maybe this is just foolish naivete.

It isn't.

Would it be the worst thing in the world to look for some very mundane, unrelated job for next year, supplemented by tutoring or volunteering or whatever else I can cobble together, while I figure out what to do next?

No. The headspace you're in now is not your best self. The headspace you would be in after a break is your best possible self. It makes more sense to apply for the big jobs when you are in your best-self headspace, right?

Will this be a resume gap that I'll be able to eventually explain to potential employers? How can I do this "taking a break" thing right, so that I get closer to figuring out what I actually want instead of further away and more depressed?

It sounds like the McJob-combined-with-tutoring is actually not a bad way to do this. And as for explaining it - well, you wanted to take care of student loans or whatever, but you kept tutoring for the experience end of things.

I admit I am not in education, and I yield to those who know more about that inner voodoo. But I always think it makes more sense to take a breather and sort your head out before making any big changes, whereever possible, because it's best to wait and make sure you're taking your best shot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Would it be the worst thing in the world to look for some very mundane, unrelated job for next year, supplemented by tutoring or volunteering or whatever else I can cobble together, while I figure out what to do next?

Not at all.

I know that I have skills, networks, and resources - but I definitely don't want to slip back into depression while being unemployed. Will this be a resume gap that I'll be able to eventually explain to potential employers?

These days, a gap of 6-8 months isn't at all strange, especially after finishing a degree program, and especially especially in a field like education, where the hiring cycle is feast-or-famine.
posted by Etrigan at 9:38 AM on May 7, 2013


Here's a thought, how about being a counselor at a summer camp somewhere?

You'll get room and board, you'll deal with snotty kids, but you'll be in the mountains and you'll be able to get away from it all doing something goofy

As for being a teacher, apply now! A friend of mine told me that Lee County Florida is hiring 500 teachers.

I taught in Florida with a Master's Degree and no other qualification. I had 3 years to take the appropriate classes, and to get myself sorted out. I had emergency certification and I was paid on the union payscale (about $48,000 annually.)

Teaching is very rigorous and you'll spend a lot of time doing it, but if you like it, the benefits are good and you do get some nice breaks, holidays and vacations. Also, they have mentorships and workshops for folks with the education, but not the actual pedogogy background.

Also, Teach for America.

It's a thought.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:39 AM on May 7, 2013


But I have very little experience and no state certification (yet!), so getting a job like that for this coming fall seems unlikely.

Teach at a private school that doesn't require certification. They may not even know yet what openings they'll have, as current teachers may be waiting until exams/graduations are over before announcing that they won't be returning in the fall.

Teaching will not only pay you and give you experience, but it will surround you with peers of the sort that often socialize and collaborate on projects outside of the classroom, which is a good social-ish environment to immerse yourself in after emerging from a long-term relationship.
posted by headnsouth at 9:55 AM on May 7, 2013


substitute teaching? or a part time gig as a teachers aid?
posted by jrobin276 at 2:35 PM on May 7, 2013


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