Do you remember that moment as a kid when your eyes lit up; when your mind started racing with ideas; when you got so excited you had to tell your friends or your parents; when you realized what your passion was ... the moment you knew exactly what you wanted to do when you "grew up"?
I vividly recall sitting in band class as a 7th grader and thinking, "This is it! I want to be a music teacher! I want to give students the amazing musical experiences and opportunities that I've been given!"
"You like an interest. You live a passion."
Fast forward to age 29
As I mentioned in “My Story, Part 3,” I had graduated from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA, with a B.A. in Music Education as well as a Secondary Teaching Credential. I worked for two years as an intermediate school choir director in a public school then unexpectedly quit my "dream" job three days before my third year was going to start. (Read why in my previous post.) I had no particular plans and no job prospects. We needed money to pay our bills, so not working was simply not an option.
Out of practicality, I became a Starbucks Barista. It was fun for awhile — two months, actually — but certainly not my passion. Then I moved on to work at a yarn store. I enjoyed becoming a better knitter, but again, not my passion! (I like how my friend, Amy, said it: "You like an interest. You live a passion.")
Asking the hard questions
During that year, I began to really question what I wanted for my life and my career. Did I want others to control when and where I worked, or did I want to set my own hours and location? Did I want to work as an underdog, or did I want to excel and be considered an expert in my field? Did I want to let my education and years of learning be wasted, or take advantage of all the knowledge and experience I had gained in many varied musical experiences? Did I want to just survive, or did I want to thrive?
The frustrations and disappointments of classroom teaching were integral parts of my choice to go back to private teaching. I would have always kicked myself if I hadn't become a classroom teacher. It's what I dreamed about!
The day I quit as a public school classroom teacher, I dared to believe that my dream job could be something other than what I had always imagined it would be. Maybe I wouldn't be a classroom music teacher, but maybe I could still find a career that encompassed the heart of what I had dreamed about as a kid. I started to explore what my real passion was.
I'm so thankful for the challenging experiences in life that bring into focus what our true longings are.
Remember what I said as a 7th grader?
"I want to give students the amazing musical experiences and opportunities that I've been given!"
I loved seeing my students light up when they "got it." I loved sharing my love of music. I loved helping my students gain self-confidence and grow in their musical abilities and skills. I loved being able to share all the knowledge I had learned. I loved giving my students positive experiences. I loved providing musical opportunities for my students that they might not have had otherwise.
I slowly came to realize that I didn't have to be a classroom teacher to accomplish those things, despite having dreamed about it for 17 years. That may seem like a long time to go down the wrong path, but ironically, I actually had my dream job for six years before I taught public school!
We all have dreams and goals as kids. They are great motivators and guides for many of our choices. I had taken a detour along the way to fulfilling my original dream, only to find out that the detour was actually much more in line with my true passions and desires for how I wanted to live my life!
Did you miss Part 1 of My Story? Read about The Early Days here
Has your teaching journey had unexpected twists and turns like mine has? I'd love to hear your story below!