I’m Not Trying to Move Up in My Career Anymore

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READING TIME: 4 min.

Teaching was never my first career choice. I wanted to be a celebrity. I wanted to be a pediatrician. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to change the world! I wanted to love my life!

In college, I studied Communications and Public Relations and was perfectly fine with that. After graduation, I immediately found a job as a Public Relations peon and worked there for about 6 months before my direct boss quit. 

I was let go quickly thereafter.

One day, a friend called and told me she was getting into teaching. She gave me the name of a certification program that made the process easier, so I thought, why not

Teaching

Fast forward to 2005 when I began teaching middle school U.S. History and coaching basketball and track. I loved it. I should’ve done this all along! (Anyone interested in changing careers?)

It didn’t take too long to realize that I craved a leadership role. I quickly became our History Department head, followed by 8th-grade team leader, and eventually, head coach. 

The best way to move up in the education field (or so I thought) was to get my master’s degree in education administration. I enrolled in an online program and finished it two weeks before my first son Liam was born in 2009. Walking the stage was out for obvious reasons, but I was still proud, nonetheless. 

I applied and interviewed for administration jobs, but nothing ever fit. I was met with the same response each time: “You’re a great interviewer, just not a good fit for this job.” 

Leadership Opportunities

Eventually, an opportunity came along with more leadership in another district, and I took it. I loved my job. It wasn’t administration, but I was able to lead people. The thought of an admin job still loomed in the back of my mind…more prestige, more money—things I thought would make me happy, that I thought would fill my heart. 

Fast forward again to 2017. I lost that job due to cutbacks in our district. Back to the classroom again. The admin thoughts grew again, with me wanting to do more and lead more and be more.

I thought my heart needed a “career” to be whole. 

Cancer Strikes

In 2018, two weeks before school started, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In other words, a Wake Up! sign hit me right in the face! I went through all the emotions of life vs. death and leaving my family and my kids, and it literally was the worst time of my life. 

Life said, “Hey, all those things you’ve been praying and wanting and wishing for are staring you right in the face.” Time stood still. In that moment, nothing mattered but my family and “framily” (friends who are family) and savoring every moment on earth. 

Happy Thoughts

What made me happy? What made my heart feel whole? It was life. This life I was leading and not appreciating. All the times I postponed vacations so I could interview for a job. All the times I did extra work (i.e., missing out on time with my family) so I could look like a hard worker and get promoted. I would often volunteer for things at work just so I could be seen as a leader in my career. 

But cancer made clear: I already have everything I need.

The truth was I was already a hard worker. I was already a leader. I realized that I didn’t need a title attached to my name to be all those things. My family loves me and appreciates me just as I am. 

Will I ever try and move up in the education field again? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. I stopped applying and interviewing. I stopped looking for things I already had.

My free time is for my family and friends and travel. Watching my kids play baseball and helping my husband smoke BBQ.

family portrait. not moving up in my career

People sometimes ask why I stopped trying to move up in my career, and I tell them the truth. Years from now, I want my kids to remember that I came to every game and practice and event I could, and I was the loudest person there. (And I do have a wonderful job I love and get to work with amazing people.) 

We’ve all learned over the past couple of years that life is terribly short, and no day is promised. When I do go, I want my people to know that I gave everything to them and for them and that they make my heart feel whole.

(Do you know someone battling cancer? Here are some of my suggestions on how to help.)

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