Why I Left Teaching…. and why it’s okay.

April 1, 2016

It was the middle of a hot, hot night in July. And I couldn’t sleep (surprise- night owl probs… ) I was laying in my bed, my mind racing a million directions [shit I really don’t want to go on another date with this guy… I have another paper due Friday… I better get my period tomorrow… I need to start getting my classroom ready ASAP] and I had the craziest feeling come over me that I was doing it all wrong. It  A L L  wrong.

I had been teaching for three years, was living in an apartment with my roomie, had the summers off, and was starting my masters. Most people would think I had it all together. Most people would think I had everything figured out, was settled, was exactly where I needed to be. My parents were happy I was a “success,” my boss saw a great future for me, my friends commended me for choosing such an admirable career. But I wasn’t in the right place. I knew I wasn’t. It hit me like a ton of bricks: I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t fulfilled. This was NOT meant to be my life.

I started thinking about why it didn’t feel right. Why was I not happy with what so many people would be lucky to have? With teaching jobs incredibly scarce (there were over 1,000 applicants just for my teaching position alone,) I felt like the most ungrateful person in the world. I thought that maybe I was wrong, the feeling would pass, I’d be happy once I met my new students… but the feeling that I was in the wrong place just felt so right.

I started coming up with solutions and ideas for what could happen TO me that would make me happier.

  1. Maybe I’d get a boyfriend, and we’d fall in love and get married and having the lifestyle of an educator would be something I was thankful for, because it meant I could spend more time with my family. No boyfriend in sight.
  2. Maybe I’d be completely inspired by something I learned in my class and it would make me want to never leave teaching, and I’d feel like I could do it forever. I’d been in the class for months with no such epiphany.
  3. Maybe we’d make $1,000 more next year and I could afford to do more things. Those “things” would make me happy. We’re definitely not getting a raise next year and would I even be happy then?

When I really thought about it, it seemed like the reason I wasn’t feeling fully fulfilled was because of my career… but not because I didn’t enjoy teaching. I absolutely LOVED being with children all day, educating them, seeing them get excited because they tried their very best and did something they never thought they could do- It was a gift to be able to see that. But there were so many things that had been bothering me about my profession. Things I couldn’t fix. Things I just knew I couldn’t live with.

I could barely pay my rent. I didn’t have any real tangible goals that made any sort of financial or logistical sense to me (a single 25 year old.) I had to go and pay out of pocket to get my masters degree- a mandate in my state- just to continue doing my job? I was frustrated. I was whiney. I wasn’t who I was supposed to be. I knew I couldn’t support myself alone and did I really want to have to depend on anyone else- ever? Did I really want to have to get married in order to afford my dream life? I started a new side job selling the best jewelry line ever (www.keep-collective.com/with/laurenhimle 🙂 ) but I just could not support myself like I wanted to. I was considering getting yet another job, just to be able to get by. That’s when I realized that I made more money babysitting 3 boys than I did educating 25.  And as I started to really listen to other teacher’s complaints, to teachers who had been doing this for years, I realized it wasn’t just me that was feeling frustrated… IT WAS EVERYONE! And it just kept getting worse.

I soon discovered there are teachers that are on food stamps because they can’t afford to feed their own children after they spend their entire day caring for other people’s kids. In the very BEST districts in the state…  (LIKE WHAT THE F*@# ?!)

And the issues didn’t lie at the district level- oh no. Many of the very best districts are doing everything they can to support their teachers but aren’t getting any of the support they so desperately need! They’re unfairly forced to take money away from teachers every single year. To pay them less… but give them more work. My mother (one of the best educators there is) is making less in 2016 than she did in 2003. How is that okay?! What kind of lesson are we teaching? We value entertainment (think of the salaries of athletes and actors) more than we value education (think of teacher salaries.) And that’s shameful- it’s SICKENING! We can, and should, and NEED to do better by our teachers, for our children’s sake. It honestly scares the living daylights out me to think of what our education system could be like by the time I have children.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that teaching is one of the only female dominated professions AND one of the only professions with a salary cap…

As I was laying in my bed that night… I knew. I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I loved teaching, but I loved the idea of being independent more. I loved the idea of being free. Free to make my own money, free to go where I wanted to go, free to fall on my face if I made a mistake, free to not be settled. Free to build my dream life on my own.

I swear to God it was two weeks later that I randomly ended up at the casting call for The Bachelor talking with a producer about giving up my life to take a chance. My friends, family, and coworkers had all nominated me to go on the show and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Weeks after that first casting, when I heard I had been accepted to go on the show, I knew I had to do it. I had to take the biggest risk I’d ever taken. I had to quit my job. I had to quit everything I’d been doing and take a chance that the show would change me for the better. I had to take a chance. 

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my entire life- to leave my safe and stable life in pursuit of the unknown. Of the “path less traveled” (ha!) But I remembered back to that hot night in July, where I laid in my bed and knew. Just knew to my core that I wasn’t on the right path. Going on the show might not be the perfect path but it was better than spending my life wondering if it could’ve been.

When I quit my job, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know what some people were saying: “She quit her job to go on a TV show?!”  “But what about the kids?”

My response to them is: I quit my job because I wasn’t fulfilled. It might not have been the choice they would make, but it was my choice- it was my life, it was what I knew to be best for me. And the lesson I’d hope that every child, adult, and woman can take away from this is that I was brave, that I trusted myself, that I took a risk. That I changed something I knew was wrong. That I got out of a situation I couldn’t stomach anymore. That I didn’t care what other people said- but did what I knew to be right for myself. That if I didn’t like my life, ONLY I COULD CHANGE IT… and that’s exactly what I did.

Some people may think I’m selfish. But I think I’m pretty proud of myself, and I’m happy now. I’m so so happy. I’m beginning a great career in real estate, where I can be my own boss, where I can support and challenge myself. Where I can grow and be un-settled. Where I can start on a fresh new path that I never would have had the guts to travel if it hadn’t been for The Bachelor.

And so, my lesson to you is: Only you know what’s best for you, trust your gut, don’t give a flying “you know what” about what other people think, and if you don’t like something- change it. It’s the only life you ever get.

And I almost forgot… To every teacher out there: YOU ARE COURAGEOUS, YOU ARE SELFLESS, YOU ARE STRONG, YOU ARE SO INSANELY SMART, YOU DESERVE RECOGNITION, YOU DESERVE RESPECT, YOU ARE AN OUTRIGHT INSPIRATION and every child you’ve so selflessly dedicated your life to is better because of you. Keep on keeping on.