I'm quitting my job!
This is a weird post to write, but it's about time I finally wrote it.
I have been an ESL teacher for 4 years now. I have taught students from Korea, Brazil, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Libya, China, Taiwan, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, among others. I have taught probably well-over 300 students.
And now, I'm finished. Done. I handed in my two weeks today.
Well, recently, I've been fighting with anxiety. This is strange for me, because....simply put, I've never been an overly anxious person. I've never had anxiety before. I've never really been worried about going to work and teaching. I've never stayed up at night worrying about it, turning the day over and over and over again in my mind. I've never really dreaded going to work.
That all changed last summer, when I was working 12 hour days teaching adults in the morning and teens in the afternoon. I burned myself out. I felt like I was just holding on by a string, emotionally. I was shaky, nervous, sweaty for 12 hours straight. It was like I was hooked up to a cortisol machine that was just pumping straight adrenaline into me for hours at a time. I stopped drinking coffee because I couldn't function as a teacher if I had one cup. It felt like I was someone else. For the first time in my life, I understood why people took Xanax or smoked pot or binge-watched Netflix.
On top of that, the students I were teaching weren't the best. It felt like every day I was fighting for their attention and respect and time. It was exhausting. I would come home and have nothing left to give C. I would just space out in front of the TV. I couldn't eat very much, so I lived off high quality dark-chocolate and wine.
It got a little bit better after I stopped teaching 12 hour days, but my love for teaching was gone. My students didn't get much better either and I started calling in sick. And I was sick. Mentally, I was very sick. I wasn't eating very much, didn't want to exercise (I had no energy), and I would wake up multiple times throughout the night. I honestly felt like I'd somehow acquired General Anxiety Disorder.
A week ago, I was lying in bed with C and I turned to him and told him I was depressed and hopeless. I couldn't imagine my life would ever get better. I would be trapped making shit money at a job that made me miserable forever. I didn't see the point in anything anymore. I was no longer challenged by my life. I felt like I was living on a treadmill - walking but not moving forwards in any meaningful way. I felt like I was watching my life slowly pass by me, while I sat in a glass-windowed building, watching other people live their lives through Facebook or Instagram.
I felt like a bystander in my own life. I felt like life was utterly boring and I didn't know what the point in it was. What was my purpose in life? To teach swarms of students correct pronunciation? To print off worksheets and fix the fucking photocopier? To teach the same book over and over until I knew every small detail? To put a smile on my face and deal with the same bullshit day in and out until I wanted to pull my hair out?
Yeah, I was in a pretty dark place emotionally.
He hugged me while I cried my eyes out. He told me that things would get better - I just needed to do something different. I'd given a lot to my students....all 300+ of them...and now I didn't have anything else left for myself. I felt like a shell, and a teaching imposter. I just didn't care about my students because I was so stuck inside my anxiety. I wasn't a good teacher for them because I wasn't functioning properly and it showed. Students were leaving my class, and I would feel so much guilt because I used to do better and now....I couldn't. I felt like I wasn't a good teacher anymore and that cut me up.
So after having time to think all of this over, I've decided to take the plunge. I've made an exit plan, and I handed in my two week. No, I don't have a job lined up yet....but I've got a plan and motivation and heart. I'm also lucky that I've got an amazing boyfriend and family who will help me in the meantime.
I feel weird about it. I do. But I also feel happy. For the first time in months, I feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a fucking train. It's possibility. I am finished this chapter of my life and I learned a lot and I enjoyed most of it while it lasted, but now it's time for me discover a new set of lessons. It's now my chance to jump into something new and move forwards again. I'm getting my momentum back. I feel like I'm finally free.
And you know what? It may not be easy. It probably won't be easy. It'll probably be hard as hell but.... I would prefer to work hard and move forward than stay and suffer. Personally, I don't ever want to be put on antidepressants and it was getting to the point where I was considering going to a doctor. I'd rather change my situation, change my miserable setting, than be put on prescription medication. I know that the reason I was suffering so much was because of my job and so the most logical thing for me to do was move away from the thing causing me so much pain.
Eventually, I'll look back on this and realize that this was the catalyst for something bigger. This moment changed everything. And I'll smile and thank my lucky stars that I got out when I did, because there was something bigger out there for me. I'm leaving this job with new determination and optimism for the future. I look forward to the new challenges I'm going to face. I'm looking forward to not settling on a stable, but ultimately, unfulfilling job. I'm looking forward to learning something new again. I'm looking forwards to different.
And if you're suffering in your life ....or job....like I was, do yourself a big favour and move away from what's causing you so much pain. It's not cowardly to stop doing something that eats you up inside. It's not "running away." It's self-preservation. It's respecting yourself. You're more than just money, and you're more than just your job title. You deserve more than suffering. You really, really do. We all do.
I have 2 weeks before I'm officially free, but I can already feel the weight lifted from my shoulders. I know I'll be OK whatever comes next. I'm ready.
So friends and readers, thank you for your support. If you have any good vibes and luck to send my way, I'd really appreciate it. And of course, if you ever want to chat or need help or want advice, you can always leave a comment below or shoot me off an email. I promise I'll personally respond to each one.
Peace out, you wonderful humans.