LIFE: The Part Where I Was Really Happy
I have to start by saying I'm really happy now.
But I also want to be very clear that there were parts where I wasn't always happy. There were parts (still are) where I was a crying ball of self-doubt at 10 a.m., full of guilt for not doing anything productive. There were parts where I was a shaking, confused, physical embodiment of tug-of-war between regret and confidence. There were parts were the path looked a lot less fun and a lot more like a cliff dive into a fire pit.
But those are parts of the story for another time (like next week, maybe) and this week's addition to The Story is The Part Where I Was Really Happy. And that's the part immediately after my last day of school as a teacher.
I turned in my resignation a few months before school as out for the summer, and the remaining days were much lighter with the weight of returning next year having been lifted, but also much scarier with the disappearance of health insurance and a paycheck. When the last day of work came, and I pushed the desks to the walls so the floor could be polished and carefully laid my USB stick full of lesson plans & worksheets in the top desk drawer for the next teacher (as the teacher before me had done as well), I walked out of the double doors of the school and into a bar down the street with some of my (now ex) colleagues.
There was the feeling of summer freedom that made the pint of Blue Moon taste like a gift from the Gods, but there was also the feeling of personal freedom. For the first time in months, maybe years, I felt free to personally imagine things and consider possibilities, and this is an intimate part of who I am, not just what I like. To have denied myself of who I was is the great pain in this story.
The months immediately following my last day of work were filled with what I now call soul vomit. I wrote and made so much art, and not all of it is gallery-worthy by any means, but it is still, to this day, among the most real & raw work I have. I doodled and scribbled, cut and pasted, typed and highlighted... and it was as if everything I had been choking back in the past 10 months was finally coming up.
(I realize that's an unpleasant visual, but it's the truth.)
I was a kind of happy I hadn't been in a while. Of course while I was teaching, I was happy as I laughed in science lessons with my students, and I was happy as I sat at coffee shops on Sunday afternoons with my boyfriend and lingered in the last moments of the weekend. To say that I was unhappy as a teacher is inaccurate, and also, it's missing the point entirely.
I was more than unhappy. I was unfulfilled, and those are not the same things. I was really happy in the months of soul vomitting not because I was no longer teaching, but because I was no longer living a life that wasn't mine.
And that's the whole point of this story. It's not to say, "Hey, this really sad thing happened to me where I used to be a teacher, didn't like it, so I quit and want to tell you how I found my way."
The whole point of this story is to say, "Hey, this really sad thing happened to me where I lived in a way that did not align with who I was & what I believed in, and I bet it's happened to you (and so many others!) too, so I want to tell you how to find your way."
That's the point. The point is not happiness or unhappiness, enjoyment or drudgery. It's not me and my story. The point is purpose and purposeless-ness, fulfillment and a lack thereof. It's YOU and YOUR story, YOUR life.
Thanks for sticking around & letting me share my story. Truly, I appreciate having a place to tell it, but more than that, I hope you're thinking about your story and your purpose.
Where's the part of your story where you're really happy?