Last year, I sat in my classroom before morning bell and my thoughts were racing…
I had just dropped off a very fussy kid at daycare, rushed to school, and was sifting through a pile of emails and plans for the day. I realized I’d read the same line several times and had no idea what I was reading. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, my palms were clammy and for a fleeting moment I thought about getting up and walking out the door.
I wanted to escape it all.
The rushing and stress that become my day to day life. Thankfully the bell rang and I snapped out of it, I didn’t realize it then, but I was having the beginnings of an anxiety attack.
From the outside my life seemed pretty great. I had all the benchmarks of success. A beautiful family, a new home, a respectable job….but I wasn’t happy. I was stressed all the time, rushing everywhere and never living in the moment. I wish I could say I change right then and there, but it wasn’t like that. Right around this time, someone close to me took their own life. He too had a good job, a family, a life, but was battling demons of his own. It shook me to my core.
I realized we weren’t that different, I had recently felt that urge to escape too. I needed help.
The first thing I had to do in order to make a change was talk to my husband and I was beyond nervous. I was pretty sure I wanted to take a break from teaching but I had no idea how to make this happen. I knew it would impact us financially and I had no idea how he’d feel about it. But the funny thing is – he looked me right in the eye and agreed that teaching was killing me. Talk about validating my feelings. It might seem dramatic to some, but it was my reality. I wasn’t living, I was surviving…and not very well apparently. I’d become a shell of a person always worrying about meetings, grading, late nights, my family, whatever! I worried about it all. After getting my husband on board, I decided to get professional help. I started seeing a therapist to help me clear out my mind, getting my anxiety in check and be able to make decisions.
Deciding to leave teaching was both the easiest and the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I knew without a doubt that I needed time away, but up until then it had been my life. I used to love teaching. Being a classroom teacher in Vermont was literally a dream come true. Something I’d been working towards for years. How could I just walk away? My therapist gave me some great advice. He said, “the only way to get through it, is to do it.” No amount of worrying or wondering or stressing was going to make my decision easier, once I decided to do it, I just had to do it. Over the next several months I talked to family and friends, I started building a home business, and I took small action steps towards creating a life that I could live with. I cut out negative people and surrounded myself with positive uplifting people that supported me and come June it was official. It was so freeing and my confidence soared!
I am coming up on my one year anniversary and I’m not going to say it’s all been easy, but I will say, I’m not looking for a teaching job! There have definitely been some growing pains over the last year. Times when I’ve doubted myself, my decision, and my path in life. But I have had the most amazing experiences over the last year that I would have never had if I’d stayed the same. I had the confidence to start blogging for the amazing team at Burlington VT Mom’s Blog, I am participating in a local BNI chapter meeting on Friday mornings working with VT business people and I had the opportunity to go on an amazing vacation with my husband and it wasn’t even a school vacation!! I have watched my son grow and learn. I have spent precious days with him before he heads off to preschool this fall and we’ll welcome another baby this winter. He’s spent days with his grandparents on a weekly basis that never would have fit into our schedule before.
I know everyone’s situation is different, but if you’re silently suffering in your life, I urge you to talk to someone and get help.
Your happiness is important. My life felt like it was carved in stone, but there’s always something you can change. Maybe you can’t leave your job right now, but you can meet new people, read to better yourself, or start a new hobbie that makes you crazy happy. Life’s too short to only survive, you need to thrive.
Have you ever made a major life change? How did you get through it?