October 25, 2011

when i grow up

I'm not sure why it's been on my mind lately, but I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life job-wise ...

What I want to be when I grow up.

I've been teaching in some capacity (whether it be in a physical classroom, at a for-profit tutoring company, or for the virtual school) for coming on five years ... And while I've had many positive moments and the jobs have been good for me in many ways, I just didn't find myself passionate about any of them (current situation included).

I've always said that I identify with being a "scientist" first and a "teacher" second, so maybe therein lies the problem ... As convenient and family-friendly as teaching may be for a young mother with her second child on the way, I don't think my heart is truly in the teaching profession (or has it ever been there).

I don't feel a "calling" like many teachers do.

I don't think that I love it.

So when my mind wanders to life after child-rearing (when my kids are in school themselves and I can "get back to work" for real), I just don't know if I want to spend the rest of my working years and all the way up to retirement in the classroom.

I don't know if I want to be "a teacher" forever.

I mean, if teaching were all about the content (science in my case) and how to effectively present it to students, I think I could very well manage ... But that's not what teaching is in most cases. Too much, I find it's all about the politics, or the administrative duties, or all the "extras" that a teacher must do every day. Or that it's about appeasing picky parents or taking the blame when a student fails.

I've grown up hearing that teaching is a "thankless job" (my uncle was a teacher), but now that I'm living it, and closing in on five years of being an educator, I'm really beginning to understand and I don't like it.

I don't like feeling like I should second-guess myself and/or my abilities. I don't like being told that I need to do more when I'm already giving so much of myself and my talents and my time. It's just not worth it to me. Maybe temporarily, while my children grow, but not forever.

Not as a life-long career.

But science.

Lovely, wonderful, rational science.

I could walk into a lab any day of the week and immediately feel at home ... Immediately feel like I belong, like I have all the answers and I don't have to wonder or second-guess. The more I stop and really think about it, the more I realize that science is truly is my thing. From the day I filled out my college application and indicated "Biology" as my major ... I guess it always has been.

But science doesn't lend itself to motherhood like teaching does ... And certainly not like my current virtual position, where I can stay at home with my children and work at the very same time.

With science comes childcare and guilt that I'm not home.

With science comes the sense that my kids are growing up and I'm not there to witness it.

With science there are fewer days off and less time to spend on vacation.

No, science isn't all flowers and rainbows either.

That's why it's so difficult for me to decide what I really (truly!) want to be when I grow up ...

Especially since I thought I was already there.

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