Before I regale you with my banal story of college-drama, check out my guest post – as a clark! – over at the Wakefield Doctrine. You won’t be disappointed.
Well, I’m not an undergrad drop-out. I did get two undergrad degrees plus enough credits in art and education to qualify for a triple major.
I did drop out of an MAT program. Twice.
In today’s world and economy, so many people are heading for their master’s degrees.
I have so many friends who have.
In fact, of my five really, REALLY close friends in college, two of us still have our bachelor’s degrees. One friend got her master’s and my two other friends got their PhD’s.
Plus, being in education, I kept thinking, I want that master’s degree. I WANT that master’s degree.
So, off I went. I was teaching Spanish, and I thought I’d do the track that would eventually make me a professor.
I mean, everybody where I was working was getting their master’s or their National Board Certification.
I had to do it.
But then I would sit at my computer writing these 25-30 page papers in Spanish and stare longingly out the window.
Or I’d stare at my artist’s easel.
Or at my camera.
Or at the multiple windows and tabs open on my computer.
Or I’d turn on some music.
I wanted to be doing ANYTHING but writing a paper.
I’d clean the house.
I’d mow the lawn.
I’d run errands.
Eventually, I would get the paper written and turn it in. I’d always strive for an A.
But then I kept thinking Why am I doing this? I’ve never wanted to be a teacher in the ‘forever’ sense of the word. Yes, I always want to teach in some capacity, but not like this, with the testing and grueling requirements.
So, I quit after two classes. Plus, the campus was two hours away, so trucking it to class once a week and then teaching at the community college on top of my regular teaching job to help pay for it was about to kill me.
After a year, that same gnawing on my psyche returned and I thought, But I’ll make more money if I just get my master’s. It’s only two and a half years. I can do two and half years.
I returned for my MAT and endured two more classes.
Ah the money. I think of a Gandhi quote that hit home:
“Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.”
It would take work to make more money. But…would it be this kind of work?
Every time I sat down to the computer, to crank out hours and hours of reflections, essays and reading, I always thought about how I could be outside playing frisbee or how I could be hiking and drawing and doing art.
And then I thought This is not part of my overall plan.
It takes courage to listen to yourself.
I mean, my parents told their friends that they told me they were proud of me, that I’d be the first in the family to get my master’s, blah blah blah.
But I didn’t want it.
I wanted something else.
I wrote a post called Living the Life of an Artist where I had a journal entry that echoes what I wanted out of life. It was dated in June, three years ago when I was taking one of my graduate courses.
Somewhere along the line, it dawned on me:
The world doesn’t need more people to get a master’s degree. The world needs more beauty and love and wonderful words.
And that became my passion. Instantly.
Every moment since then, three years ago, I’d been working on doing that very thing.
Yeah, I kept teaching.
Yeah, I kept putting my dreams off – at least a little bit.
I knew that one day I would take the plunge and just do it.
When I was student teaching back in 2006, I kept telling everyone I knew: I have 5-7 years of teaching in me. After that, I need to be creative and autonomous.
And 6 years into my teaching career, I left it.
It sounds crazy.
But I was going crazy.
What’s life like now?
I can tell you it’s not easy. I can tell you I have plenty of self-doubt sometimes. I can tell you it can be really difficult to control that inner voice that says Give up. You can’t do this. You’re ludicrous for trying. And you quit a good job when so many are out of work. You’re nuts.
That stupid voice gets less and less time and space in my head. That stupid voice, dubbed SUV (ironic, right?), could go to hell.
- I had to make the decision to walk away from a steady income and security. And that’s not easy.
- I had to make the decision to be poor – at least for awhile. And that’s not easy.
- I had to make the decision to give up certain comforts and just hope that everything would work out. That’s not easy, either.
Then I started doing something: I began to spend time each day not allowing myself to dwell on any of that.
I began to read inspirational stories and filled my head with positive thoughts and a determination to live out my dream.
Because it was now or never. Because when you think I’ll get to my dream when I retire or after the kids are grown or I’ll wait until we’re in a better financial situation then you’re giving yourself permission to live out the status quo.
That far-off day you begin living your dream and stop living the status quo might never come.
No one is going to make our dreams come true except for us. Not only that, we’re all on borrowed time.
Too many of us end up working in jobs we don’t like, out of necessity. And we toil away only to be replaced by someone else when we bow out.
I kept thinking about how the Education Machine was pounding out my will to live.
And that I’d be doing exactly the same thing 30 years from now if I stayed. Believe me when I say that:
a good friend and fellow teacher put in 23 years before she retired and when she left, she literally only got a small get-together and that was that. She was replaced the next day.
Please believe me when I say I’m not “dissing” education.
The point I’m trying to make is that we have to find our passion.
For some teachers I worked with, I knew they had found their passion. You could feel it when they stepped into the room and no matter what happened with the administration or with national cries for “hold them more accountable” they went right on teaching with a pure fire and love in their hearts.
I admired them for that.
Then I thought, What if everyone was doing their passion?
What kind of world would that be?
I now believe that I’m helping people in a different way: from the images I snap, from the art I produce, and the words that I write.
They all help define who I am; though they only a PART of who I am.
The WHOLE of who I am is that I am making the choice to live out my values, philosophies and vision.
I hope to inspire others to join me on this road…that is admittedly full of potholes and traps and curves and ice and snow and sunny days and there’s plenty of room…follow the double yellow line until…you find your own line.
It might be a dotted line, or have reflectors that act like beacons…or it could be a smudged, nearly invisible line that will eventually lead to some panoramic vista.
And the journey will be worth it.
I have a deep-seated need to make a difference in the only way I know how: by using my talents to inspire, to add beauty, to add peace, to spread love, to bring hope.
I am not perfect. I struggle with my own values and visions.
But I get back up each day and begin to move forward, farther than I did on the previous day.
I also believe in signs. My friend Dana shared a video put out by UpWorthy that gave me chills. She shared it WHILE I was writing this post.
I had to include it. It’s well worth the 3 minutes of your time. You might walk away changed…forever.
And may we all unite in our pursuit of happiness. May we find happiness in little things, like water droplets on rosebud leaves.
If you like the image above, you can purchase a poster of it (or other products with the same image) over at Zazzle.com: