This weekend made me all Waaaait. What if what I really want to do is work with kids again? (They are freaking ENTERTAINING.)
Let me back up and properly explain my confusion. I was an early childhood education major in college. I loved kids. I was great with kids. After a year or two, I realized it just wasn't a good fit for me. Seven hours with the same kids five days a week? Yikes. Crowded classrooms and standardized tests would stifle my creativity. Being a good teacher in the US required FAR more work than I had bargained for.
I opted out of student teaching, and getting my teacher licensure, and was able to work at an environmental after-school education center for urban youth my senior year of college. Although challenging, I loved it. Loved. It. The kids were wonderful - challenging at times, but beyond rewarding. My supervisors constantly told me I was great at what I did. I had confidence and it was a perfect fit.
It was also draining and more intense than I'd bargained for. I came home at the end of every day and just crumpled into a heap on the couch. Sometimes I'd cry in frustration. So, yes: It. Is. Difficult. And maybe I'm just a wimp. Not to mention, not many people are able to make a career in out-of-school education. There's no career path for teachers who don't want to teach in classrooms. And working after-school programs doesnt't usually pay much. If at all.
Enter my current job. A less-intense job that has allowed me time to really develop and explore my passions. I created an Etsy shop. I've spent some time designing. And I realized a flexible working life would give me the kind of balance I crave. A life where I could be free to be a freelance designer and craft a bit here and there while I'm working from home. A life where I wouldn't suffocate in a windowless cubicle. A life where I'd be able to raise children. Someday.
After a fabulous conference this past weekend, I'm questioning myself all over again. What ifs swirl about in my little head and I find myself desperately wishing I could live two lives and see which one I like better. Commitment is hard. Which is odd for me to say, as I got married at the insanely ripe age of twenty two. But, when it comes to deciding on a career or location, I'm paralyzed with fear. What if I get it wrong? What if I'd be happier doing something else?
I guess part of growing up is being able to make decisions and point yourself in a direction despite uncertainty. The uncertainty will never leave, I imagine, it just gets lost in the shuffle of daily life - in carpools, whiny toddlers, and diaper changes; in quarterly reports, deadlines, and emails.
Yesterday, I was questioning how my creative aspirations could possibly make the world a better place, when working with youth is so immediately rewarding. Then I got the most wonderful message from a woman who found me through Maggie's blog:
"I read YOUR blog (something I NEVER have time for because I'm raising two 3 year old boys whom we had adopted from Kazakhstan), then have been browsing through your items on Etsy, a site I've NEVER been on but have completely fallen in love with this afternoon (my husband is going to be absolutely thrilled with the bills from this discovery), and want to thank you for sharing a little bit of sunshine to my now pretty-funky-but-totally-off-routine day...I think your artwork is just so unique and quirky. All of it really makes me smile. As did your blog...so fresh and genuine. My goal this year is to keep more in touch with friends so I hope to get more cards from you as they would be such lovely items to receive in the mail -- I know that they are going to make lots of people happy."It was as if God was tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Hey, Ash, you are doing something positive, okay?"
...I'm still a little confused, though.