I have spent most of my life taking care of and trying to please everybody else. As a child, I was always helping my mom out by watching my younger brothers and sister, preparing meals or cleaning the house. I met my husband during college and have followed and supported him in establishing his career for the past 7 years. Finally, I have two small children that I love to death and would do anything for.
Since my 30th birthday I have been doing a lot of soul searching and realized that I am not happy. I am not trying to be whiny because I do have a wonderful life. Besides a roof over my head, financial stability, food on the table and good health, I have a very loving and supportive extended family, I have two beautiful kids, and I have a husband who works hard to provide for his family. Through my soul searching I have come to realize that most of that unhappiness comes from not "measuring up" or fulfilling my potential professionally.
Though I always excelled academically, I have also been a very shy person and not likely to step outside of my comfort zone. For that reason I have allowed myself to work minimum wage positions where not much is expected of me. Though I have always given 100% at any position I have been in, it has not been difficult for me to meet and exceed the requirements of the jobs.
I am currently working as an Aide in a Special Education classroom, and though I love my position, I have begun to wonder, "Why am I not the teacher?" My husband and I began discussing my feelings and goals and decided to look into my going back to school to get a teaching degree. Randy researched several local colleges, but it was up to me to schedule the appointment with a local college to discuss some options. When I first met the counselor and told her that I had a BA in Social Work also received minors in Spanish and Women's Studies, she looked at me wide-mouthed and asked, "Do you not know how valuable you are?" She told me that I could get my teaching certificate in 2 years. Though I was excited about that, part of me felt like I was moving sideways, if not backwards. It felt like I would be making up for making a wrong decision in careers in college rather than advancing my career and education. She then told me that I could also get my Masters in School Counseling in 2 years to become a School Counselor. I was so excited to hear this because becoming a School Social Worker/Counselor had been my dream job and reason for choosing Social Work. Also getting my Masters' definitely felt like an advance and not lateral or backward move.
I left the meeting ecstatic that I would be registering for classes and working towards my Masters, but upon further discussion with my husband and others in the school where I currently work, it was a concern that there are very few Counselor positions available and after 2 years, I may not be able to find work. Again I was feeling disappointed and like a failure.
Several weeks later, after the hubbub of the holidays, I looked into classes for my Substitute Teaching Certificate. I met a woman several months earlier who had alerted me that in Iowa you can take a short 20 hour course if you have a 4 year degree or Para certification and be certified to substitute teach 7th-12th grades. I researched the class and found that I had just missed the registration deadline. Again, I was feeling disappointed, but decided to call to make sure that I couldn't still register. Fortunately, they still had spots open and I was able to register for an extra minimal late fee.
I took the course over the course of 4 weeks in January and February. Though I felt guilty leaving the kids in order to go to the 3 hour class, 2 nights a week, I had to remind myself that doing this would make me happier and therefore make me a better mom. I am still waiting on my certificate and have yet to substitute in an actual classroom, but I am excited for what is to come. My plan is finish out the year in my current position as aide and to substitute teach full time next year. If I really like it, I can continue to sub and simply renew my certification every 3 years or spend the next 3 years that my license is valid working towards my teaching license. Either way, I am finally feeling like a mature and responsible adult and like I know what I want to be when I grow up!