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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Do I have to choose my own future?

I woke up at 3am and was unable to fall back asleep due to my new hobby of worrying about my future.

Undergrad was comfortable. It was easy in that I always knew what I was supposed to be doing - I was a student, my job was to study and read and write. When I wasn't doing one of those things, I was working at one of my three campus jobs. I was always busy, always occupied, always mentally stimulated.

Now, I have a few months of student teaching in the fall, and then what? What am I supposed to do after the student teaching? Teach, in theory, I guess. And I will. But I also want to live somewhere in Latin America again, for a time. I want to go to graduate school. How do I decide what to do when, in what order, for how long? When I do go to graduate school, what do I want to do there? Do I want a masters (certainly), do I want a PhD (perhaps)? What exactly do I want to study?

And, doesn't everyone get advanced degrees in education? How do I stand out in the job market? If something were to happen, and I were to one day in the future actually try to get a PhD, what would I do with that? I've seen from my own college experiences that institutional politics are no fun - I don't know that I would want to subject myself to that. But, I would really like to perform educational research, and you need to be affiliated with a college or university to do research (right? I don't know). And with that comes the politics.

Really though, I shouldn't even be worrying about that stuff yet. First, I have to get through the whole student teaching experience. I have time before I have to worry about what will happen post student teaching. It's good that I think about it (a lot...) but maybe it's just creating unnecessary stress. However, at the same time, I want to know what I'm going to be doing come January, when I'm done student teaching and officially out on my own. Do I want to substitute teach? (No, not really. I feel that short-term subbing would be a painful existence. Though I suppose it would be useful to work with a greater range of ages than I would otherwise have the opportunity to work with.) You can't really find a full-time teaching job half way through the year, so that's out of the question. If I were to take this time to leave the country, which would be ideal in some ways, I wouldn't be here in the spring to apply for teaching jobs for the fall.

And, when I do end up teaching full-time, where do I want to do that? In HomeState? In SchoolState? In an entirely new-to-me state? Do I want to make an effort to live near any specific university in which I could potentially attend graduate school?

Too many questions, but I will come up with answers soon enough, because I will have to.

I will end this chaotic stream-of-consciousness with a conversation I had a few days ago with my 10 year old cousin:
Cousin: So, is your school over?
Me: Yup. I'm all done with school.
Cousin: Are you sad?
Me: Yes. I like school.
Cousin: Well, you could always go back to college.
Me: Okay.

(Now, I will try to stop worrying about my future and go back to sleep for an hour before it is time to wake up for the day...)


Blogger Ms M. said...

This sounds a little (ok, a LOT) like what I was worrying about when I completed my undergrad ed. If I have any advice to give, it is to stop worrying and do what feels right. I realize this is easy to say and hard to follow, but really, we all have perhaps only this one life, and I for one think that we need to spend less time worrying about what we 'should' do and do more of what we 'can' to do.

After student-teaching I spent a few months travelling around Cambodia and Thailand before I started working just because I knew I might not have the chance again. I also subbed for a while, which was hell, but it gave me a better sense of what to leave for a sub when I'm out. I also took my sweet time with my Master's and still sometimes ponder whether I'd like a more advanced degree. Bottom line? I don't regret bopping around a bit before I figured it all out. It will be harder to float in the breeze once you get a career going, so you might as well float first. I didn't get my first 'real' job until I was 27, and it was the best decision I ever made. Do I want to be a middle school teacher in NY forever? Probably not. There are still many places I'd like to live, things to do etc, and I think that it can be done, despite only earning a measly paycheck.

Go for what you want at the moment and things tend to just fall into place. Worst case scenario - you hate what you chose and you go back and start a different path, but hopefully you take something from the experience.

Sorry if that was a bit rambling, but I really encourage you to push your own limits, even if it's scary and worrysome.

3:59 PM  

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