“What’s your most embarrassing moment?”
The classic ice-breaker question.
The one that makes me cringe because unlike most (so it seems to me at least) I don’t have one example of me floundering through the aisles of Target with ripped pants. My mind holds a million embarrassing, awkward, red-faced, “Can I cry yet?” moments that are not nearly as laughter-evoking as the former.
Embarrassed is a tricky emotion to describe.
I can remember stumbling over what it is when my Pre-K kids would ask.
I can also remember my Dad doing his best to explain it to me while waiting in line as a kid.
The memory must stand out to me because I knew the feeling all too well and now this word, this perfect word, made it all make sense.
“Oh, so this feeling I have is a real thing!”
I quit my job a month ago.
Not on a whim.
Not without thought.
Not without tears.
Looking back, it was a long-time coming.
I loved my job.
I loved my students.
I loved their families.
I loved my co-workers.
(Seriously, the Lord gifted me with those strong, kind, and wise women. I cried on their shoulders many-a-time.)
And maybe this is hard to explain (And trust me, it was very hard to explain.) because it’s not that I disagree with early childhood education in itself. I just don’t totally agree with the way we’re going about it. And thinking into the future, it surely isn’t the way we want to raise our children. I love your child a whole lot. But not enough to leave my child with someone else to raise them. Add in the factor that my salary would be equivalent to the cost of sending our child to said institution and it’s downright depressing. I read this (“It Doesn’t Pay to be an Early-Childhood Teacher” ) and thought, “I’m not the only one recognizing this problem.” as well as, “Why did no one tell eighteen-year-old Rachel this?” Which in fact, they did. Every time, “We’re not in in for the money.” was muttered – they were shouting it. I just wasn’t paying attention.
This recognition has brought a flurry of insecurity, regret, confusion, and embarrassment.
I felt embarrassed about feeling so sure of my “calling” and passion. I declared my major as an eighteen-year-old and did not change throughout my three and a half years of higher education. I have a piece of paper (somewhere) and three years of experience stating that I’m good. I’m qualified. But it’s not my passion. I love kids, yes. And hope to have a houseful of them someday. But teaching in a formal setting – not so much.
I feel insecure. Because I don’t know what I want to do in life. I have some ideas. But they’re not so practical.
I feel regret. Because each month a chunk of change pays for my nice piece of paper that states, “Early Childhood Education” while I punch the clock doing otherwise. I know that’s a wrong way to look at things. That an education is so much more than a piece of paper. But it doesn’t take the feeling away. Why do we entrust eighteen-year-olds to decide what they want to do with their lives?!
This month I’ve realized what I wish I would have realized as an eighteen-year-old.
(And will probably re-realize several times in my lifetime…)
That it’s ok to flounder.
To feel embarrassed.
To not know what you want your “career” to look like.