When I was in the fourth grade, I told my teacher that I wanted to be a teacher someday. I forget the exact context in which I made this announcement, but if I had to guess, I'd say we were having a class discussion about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Anyway, my teacher was understandably supportive, and in the days after I told her of my future career choice, she would talk with me about teaching. It was almost as if she were planning to take me under her wing and mentor me, cultivating me into a future educator. Well, shortly thereafter I read Ramona Forever and decided to be a writer. And the next time my teacher tried to talk to me about teaching, I resolutely informed her that I wanted to write for a living. I wanted to be an author. She seemed a little disappointed, and I held on to that dream until...well, I'm still holding onto it, actually. But here's the thing: until that happens, I need a day job that's worthwhile. One that's fulfilling and one that I enjoy doing because let's face it: it might take years to become published. And it might not happen at all. And I don't want to go through life doing jobs I hate, just passing the time until something better comes along. Because what if it doesn't? If I've learned anything in my 26 years here on Earth, it's that sometimes things don't always go according to plan. Take, for instance, my pathway to becoming a full-time writer:
1. High School: get involved with the yearbook and newspaper and get acquainted with journalism
2. College: go to Tallahassee Community College and get my general education courses out of the way, then transfer to the University of South Florida and major in magazine journalism
3. After graduating: get a job at a magazine and write a novel on the side and send it to publishers and literary agents
4. Some unknown point in the future after step #3: get published and quit magazine job to tour and write books full-time.
Simple enough, right? Well, none of that happened. I did get involved with the newspaper and yearbook in high school, but I ended up going to North Florida Community College for my first two years. I did transfer to USF and declare a major in magazine journalism, but switched to public relations when a professor told me that magazine writers were free-lancers. Years after I graduated, I applied for PR position after PR position with no success while working full-time as a staff assistant where I currently work, and questioning whether or not I really wanted to get into the field at all (I don't). So, after coming to dead end after dead end but not wanting to be at my current job any longer, what did I decide to do?
I decided to teach.
That's right! I went back to the career choice I made when I was in the fourth grade. I applied for (and received) my certification to teach grades 6-12 journalism, and am now working on re-vamping my resume and applying for teaching jobs. My goal is to get into the state school system by this fall.
Painfully ironic, isn't it? Of course, I still hold onto that dream of publishing at least one book. But if that never happens, if the only people who read what I write are those who stop by my blogs and friends and family, I think I could still be happy and fulfilled with teaching as a day job.
Here's to new beginnings and being "schooled" by life.