I’ve got a case of the doubts.

Lately I’ve been feeling guilty and confused. I set out on this HeSo Project in an effort to make my happiness and fulfillment a priority. I wanted to find a job that satisfied me spiritually as well as financially. I wanted to challenge myself to be creative and take risks. I assumed this meant being an entrepreneur.

I certainly felt creative and challenged while starting BeddyBye. I learned so much about creating an LLC, and dealing with internet business. I took courses in starting a small business. I hired a consultant to figure out the logistics of working with plastic. I made countless sketches, revised the design, and made four different prototypes. I was talking to safety engineers and manufacturing experts. It really felt like it was going to happen. Then…I lost interest (or perhaps confidence). The steamroller of doubt squashed this dream.

Every expert I spoke with told me I needed over 100k just to get started, and that there was really no way to dip my toes in the water when it came to manufacturing – especially when your making a device for babies. A part of me would like to sell the idea one day to a baby product company, so that’s making me feel like it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Actually no part of me feels like it was a waste of time. I learned a ton from that experience.

But then, when I was trying to come up with the next venture for the HeSo project, I called up an old friend to see if I could sub a few hours a week at her  school just so I wasn’t going through my entire savings.

Four years ago I was an English as a second (ESL) teacher and I absolutely loved it. The only reason why I quit was because I wasn’t making enough money. What added insult to injury was that the school was grooming me for a promotion, but it turned out that the promotion, although it was a great title, included a pay cut! That’s when I started working for my mom. I made tons of money but I was absolutely uninterested in what I was doing.

Well the subbing quickly turned into full time teaching. It’s an incredibly exhausting job, I’m working so much harder than I’m used to, and waking up earlier than I want to, and just barely making enough to pay the bills…but I love it. I come home full of stories. My students make me laugh all the time. I love the routine of work, I know I’m an amazing teacher, and I like being a part of a big team. Call me crazy but I actually like making a small salary. It’s making me appreciate the few things I do end up buying.

So here’s where the guilt comes in:

I feel like I set such a high bar for myself and I’m falling short. Of course my priority was to be happy, and I am. So shouldn’t that be enough? But another part of me thinks I should be doing more. A part of me thinks I’m not living up to my potential.

Yesterday one of my co-teachers said it was her 3 year anniversary of teaching at the school. I congratulated her, but she said she thought it was the saddest thing ever. She got into it just to pay the rent while she was auditioning for acting rolls. She said it was like she had become a career waiter. It made me wonder if I’m settling. Then that made me wonder if I’m letting someone else’s opinion taint my happiness.

I haven’t really come to a conclusion. I just wanted to get that off my chest. Any thoughts?

19 comments

  1. You say “I love it,” and that seems good to me. Are you waking up happy to be going where you’re going? If so, I think you’re good. Just keep checking in with yourself. Don’t let 15 years go by without checking in (like some people we know who shall remain nameless).

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I am waking up very happy, and I guess this blog will keep me asking that question every morning 🙂

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  2. Enjoy your happiness and use the time you spend doubting yourself creatively. You are one of the most gifted, talented people I’ve ever met. You have a job that gives you joy and doesn’t sap your energy, so use your non-working time to do other things you love. Here’s my advice to you: you can always spend time not doing what you love. Knock it off and start writing or painting, or singing. Shine!

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  3. Teachers are so undervalued and over-criticized that it’s easy to assume one “settles” into a teaching career. But I agree with the above comment that as long as you are able to say you love what you do and are happy, you’re good! Not only are you making a difference in your own life, by loving what you do as a teacher, you make a difference everyday in the lives of your students. Rock on!

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    1. Thanks Tara! Would it ever be possible for teachers to get the recognition they deserve? I do think my happiness rubs off on the students!

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  4. I think your happiness rubs off on everyone you come into contact with. I mean, “with whom you come into contact”. ; ) As long as you are happy and can provide yourself with what you need and want, that is successful, as far as I’m concerned. The other teacher probably isn’t happy because she wants to be acting. It’s not the job, it’s what you really want to be doing. I also agree with what the others have said about pursuing the other stuff in your non-teaching time, and continuing to check-in and make sure you’re still happy. Also, it’s possible that you could find a way to still do this kind of teaching and make more money as well. Perhaps tutor, or open your own school. Or maybe even do video teaching for students around the world!
    Time will tell!

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  5. Happiness should absolutely be your first priority and key measure of success.
    What else matters?
    There have been a few articles on how status anxiety and worrying about what other people think is the enemy of a happy life.
    You might enjoy this article- I discovered it care of Brain Pickings who discuss this topic quite often.
    http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html

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    1. I love that article! It was one of the pieces that inspired me to start the HeSo project 🙂 Thanks for thinking of me.

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  6. Hey Tracy,
    If you love it, you love it. Don’t worry about what other people experience! AND, this could be a step on your journey. Continue to follow the path of what makes you happy and fulfilled! I’m willing to guess that it will continue to change and evolve along the way. So stay connected to yourself and you’ll know when it’s time for something to happen.

    And a big CONGRATS to you and Mike on your happy news 🙂

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  7. I looked around for an article I once read refuting Steve Jobs’ assertion that we should all quit our jobs and follow our dreams, but I couldn’t find it.
    Instead here is a letter from a Primary School Teacher I worked with for a while.

    “I was in a meeting yesterday and heard that everything that was being done at our school regarding the scheduling for next year is for the kids. I personally have always hated that kind of talk, but to be clear, I thought I’d share why I teach at South-Doyle Middle School. I believe that most of you feel the same way.

    I care about the kids. I care about their future. I care about their education. I care about their situations. I care about their families. I care about things that have happened to them that they can’t do anything about. I care about things that haven’t happened for them that they can’t do anything about. I care about the opportunities that are available to them in the future. I care about the opportunities that aren’t available to them in the future. I care about their place in the future and want it to be bright. I care about my role in bringing them towards that future, kicking and screaming if need be. I know that by building a relationship with each student at the beginning of the year, I can get much more out of them throughout the year. I know some of their secrets. I know that I have to be their guide and demonstrate how to deal with fear, anger, frustration, ambivalence, anxiety, and loneliness. I know who carved into her arm, who needs to hang out at school longer because his dad is home drunk in the afternoon, and who knows the slang words for oxycodone.

    I care about me. I care about my ability to guide those kids. I care about my understanding of their needs. I care about the obstacles placed in the way of my meeting their needs. I care about my ability to help them navigate the obstacles in their way. I care about my heart, and want to make sure that I show and share my heart even though there are times that I have to push myself, too. I care about my objectivity sometimes. I care about my frustration and fear about being able to give them all that they need. I care about preparing myself to prepare them.

    I care deeply about my co-workers. I have spent 10 years at South-Doyle Middle School and have grown close to many of you. Beth Hudson is one of my best friends. I’ve shared successes and sorrows with so many of you. I know about your children, pets, car trouble, leaky roofs, medications, favorite music, weaknesses, problems with crazed woodpeckers, engagements, weddings, divorces, pregnancies, money problems, addictions, wacky extended family members, battles with crummy diseases and medical mysteries, professional accomplishments, grandchildren, love of Swedish Fish, sleep apnea, summer jobs, regrets, faith, amazing problem-solving skills, broken bones, missing ducks, children you’ve lost way too early, failures, new houses, new cars, fears about elderly parents, battles with depression, vacations, dreams, inspirations, and passions. I know who are the dog people, who are the bird people, and I know who dislikes snakes. I know who is reliable; I know who is not. I know a few of you were in high school when I started teaching. I know that I was in high school when one or two of YOU started teaching!

    That’s why I am here. I am not selfish for wanting MY school to be a place where OUR students succeed, where I can succeed, and where my friends can succeed.

    While we are preparing to endure another significant team restructuring and the introduction of TAP and the loss of several extremely talented and caring staff members, I will rely on many of my co-workers to get through it. I will crack jokes, complain, listen, ask questions, hope for the best, and deal with it because that’s what we do here. I don’t take that for granted, and I know that’s what makes this place a place where I want to be”

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    1. Amen to that. Thank you for sharing that heartfelt letter. Did you have her as a teacher? It’s such an obvious message, but every school seems to forget it. My friend works for a great charter school that attracts young motivated teachers, but no teachers have lasted for longer than 3 years because all they focus on is the students. But the students would be better served and have more consistency if the teachers’ well being was a priority as well.
      I love your blog by the way 🙂

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      1. I was a tour guide in western Canada for a summer and he was a chaperone for the kids that came from Tennessee, I think.
        I find teaching is a great way of connecting with young energy, which is so important in a cynical, busy and misguided world.

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  8. I say, go with what you love. If you love it, that’s where you will leave your best mark. And as noted above, check in once in a while to make sure it’s still what you love.

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  9. The way I see it, you’re living the dream! There aren’t many people in the world who have the opportunity to do something they love as their career. A lot of people want to, but fear holds them back. I think we tend to feel we can get everything we want: a career we love, loads of money, lots of stuff. But the reality is we can’t and why is it that we feel we need to? Usually because society tells us that we should. It’s all about happiness and if you’re happy doing what you’re doing, and you seem to be despite the pay, then keep on doing it! Don’t let other people decide what makes you happy.

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