As I sit at my desk with headphones on and no music playing, I am reminded of how privileged I am to have a relatively comfortable work situation where I can ignore others when I need to have a moment and my students bring me Coffee Bean from time to time. Every day I get to interact with children and try to help them navigate the college process, figure out their classes, and process the general nonsense of being a teenager. Initially I started working in education because I wanted to help kids get their shit together. (OK, initially I started working in education because I couldn’t get my own shit together, but whatever).
Nearly a decade later, I realize that the students I’ve met are helping me figure out my own path at least as much as I am helping them. I also realize more clearly than ever that eventually — as soon as possible — my path will involve a shift away from education toward entertaining and writing full time. In the meantime I can appreciate the journey and the fact that I’m not waiting tables or dishing out happy endings to Craigslisters while I struggle for my art.
A few relatedly random observations:
- Look for inspiration everywhere. So what you don’t like your job. Personal problems make good blues songs and writing/comedy material. If one considers each situation as an opportunity to complain with cadence, it makes them much more bearable.
- Learning that something isn’t for you is as important as finding something you like. Unless you’re open to embrace a situation, you cannot get the lesson from it nor can you discover why it doesn’t really resonate.
- Stock up on Emergen-C. Children are incubators of germs and working in a school is just about as bad as working in a Starbuck’s bathroom. Nasty shit all around. One may be surprised how much easier it is to dislike a job when snotty children are sneezing in your face.
- Master the headphone decoy. Even when no music is on, remember to talk loudly and ignore every other sentence that your co-workers utter. After 6-18 months, they’ll start catching on that you’re not interested in stories about their cat.
How do you make the most of your situation? How are you keeping your dreams alive while keeping your light bill paid?