So, for those of you who don't know, I'm a teacher. I teach English and Theater in New Jersey. I truly love my job, and not just because I get paid. I love my students. I love collaborating with my colleagues. I love finding fun things to put up on my website (Shameless plug for my school website here).
That being said, it's a rough time to be a teacher right now. School staffs are getting cut left and right, including ours. This isn't unusual for the US right now. The public sector is out of cash. Everyone is getting cut. Of course the private sector is getting hit hard as well, so let me just say that recessions suck, really badly.
I was told about two weeks ago now that I should start looking for work. Being a teacher, I have a contract until June, but as of July I'm probably one of the 9.2% of people unemployed in NJ.
Let me clear some things up before we move on with this little saga.
First: I wasn't fired. It's called a RIF or reduction in force. It means that they like me just fine but are cutting my position or can't afford to pay me, or both.
Second: I am a damn good teacher. No, really. Stop laughing! I'm serious! This is not me being arrogant. Ok, this IS me being arrogant, but it's also true. Despite working in 3 different districts in 6 years, I have never been fired. I left the first school to accept a better position for more pay. Left the second school after they had to give a tenured teacher my position due to budget cuts, and am looking for work now because of budget cuts again. I have never once been told that I was doing a shoddy job, or that I wasn't qualified or anything about my performance in my job duties. I just happen to teach electives, which are imminently expendable in this fiscal environment. (Yes I teach English which isn't technically an elective, but I don't like to teach regular English classes. I have more fun with the English electives.)
Third: They told me the same thing last year about this time and I made it to this year, so I'm hopeful I may get one more year. But it's sort of dumb to bet 100% on that, so I'm looking for jobs and thinking about my options.
Fourth: No, I am not mad at my principal, or school administration, or Board of Ed, or Governor, or any other group that has the power to make these decisions. They have a ton of really difficult decisions to make over the next few months and years and I really wouldn't want to be in their shoes. They are doing what they have to do and I wish them the best with it. Show wisdom and patience.
Now, without getting too serious or maudlin about the whole thing, this sucks on a whole host of levels, not the least of which being that my wife doesn't currently have a job either after having just completed her Masters degree in Library Science (yeah, another public sector job).
Aside: Shout out to my wife - Carina, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE MASTER'S I'M SO PROUD OF YOU! End aside.
So we're both looking for work.
Now I don't have any interest in going into all the huge and terrifying reasons why this is horrible. I mean really, at this point in time we've all heard the horror stories over and over ad nauseum.
If you haven't heard them, what rock have you been living under?
You could be forgiven for being horribly depressed right now. I certainly forgive you.
But I'm not.
Depressed, I mean.
Oh I have my good days and bad says. But overall I'm doing fine.
Want to know why?
Yeah, me too.
Ok, I do know. I'm choosing not to be depressed. I'm "choosing my thoughts like I choose my clothes in the morning" to quote the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love (Book was better, but aren't they always? Yes, it's worth a read.). And yes, I frequently speak in bumper sticker.
Aside: Seriously, what's the point of depression exactly? I mean I know why it happens, and thanks to my college psychology days I know a bit about how it happens too, but what's the point?
Did something somewhere in the evolutionary tree sit down and say, "I am more likely to be able to have sex with females of my kind (or males as the case may be) if I show that occasionally I like to sleep for weeks on end (No I DON'T want to eat, BACK OFF!), not bathe ( I smell fine!), scream at those trying to help me ( You hate me! Oh no! Don't leave me! I love you! I HATE YOU!), look at the world through the lens of paranoia (You're cheating on me aren't you?), and wear black emotionally and physically (No I am NOT wearing black eyeliner)."
Ok, so those things probably did get someone somewhere, but I suspect in the vast majority of cases those traits act as very strong prophylactics. (Does it say something deep about me that I misspell the word occasionally every time I type it, yes even that time, but I get the word prophylactics the first try?) End aside.
So I'm choosing to look at the possibilities.
For example, if both Carina and I aren't working, we have the ability to move anywhere in the world for work. It's not exactly our best case scenario as we love where we live, but we could do it. And it might turn out amazing!
I'm thinking of buying a business, or starting my own.
I'm thinking of teaching English instead of Theater (GASP!).
I'm thinking of writing a book. (I'm actually considering doing this no matter what I end up doing past July, so I'd love some feedback in the comments section about what you think about my writing so far.)
I'm thinking of starting acting again.
I'm thinking of writing a play.
I'm thinking of making the next big viral video and hitting it rich.
The world is full of possibilities.
I don't know what it going to happen next, but I am choosing to look forward to it.