Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Period of Frustration.


I'm not sure what my intentions are in writing this post. I don't know if I will have a point or a purpose, but I am hoping that I can come to some kind of conclusion for my own sanity.

I am approaching two years into this project. This seems incredibly significant in some way, but I am at a loss as to why. Last year, I was just plain excited to have gotten through a year without any breaks. I was proud of what my blog was and the friendships I was beginning to form. I felt like things were getting better for me professionally and that I was on my way to...something.

But now I am approaching year two and I am asking myself, what have I really accomplished? I go back to that night when I feverishly typed out my plans for what this space would become. I wanted to get over a period of depression that I was in and accomplish something that would matter. And while things have changed in these last almost two years, I still don't feel like I have done anything of value for myself or those around me.

Sure, I have read a great number of books by the great authors. I met and conquered some of my most intimidating writers: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens, Cooper, and more. I have visited old friends and remembered why I called them friends. I am learning more and more about the worlds these writers lived in, their lives, and what outside circumstances have altered their view of the world and shaped their novels. I think that I have improved both in my writing and my reading abilities. And I feel like I am still missing something, some key that connects all this together and makes meaning.

I wanted to start this to give me a chance to improve myself. When I wrote that first blog post two years ago, I was frustrated with my job search. At the time, I had been done with school for nearly two years. I thought that I would have had a job, that I would be in a classroom. And that didn't happen.

Here I am, nearly two years later, and how much farther have I really come? Not far. I still work at the parks during the summer. And it isn't that I want to work there, it is because I have to work there. I have bills to pay! I still don't have a permanent teaching position. It has been a long and rough road. I have traveled hours for interviews where I thought the job was mine, only to be sorely disappointed hours later. I have subbed and networked and worked my butt off to prove myself to the schools that I have been in.

But I am still in the same place. I have made no forward progress. I haven't gained anything.

I won't even talk to Matt about it anymore. When the conversation comes up about getting a permanent position, I just shut down. After so much rejection, it is hard to continue to hold your head up and say, "That just wasn't the right position for me. I just haven't found the right school." After a while, you just have to think, "What's wrong with me? Why will no one give me a chance?" It is hard, frustrating, and even typing this out brings me to tears.

More than anything, though, is how embarrassed I feel. I am ashamed of the fact that I am not where I want to be. I always told myself in college that I would be the one to get a job right away. I never thought that I would be where I am now. I'm 26 and don't have a permanent job. I make do with what I have.

How much longer can I continue to plug away, never making forward progress? When do I finally say, "enough is enough" and give up? Next year, will I find myself writing the same things?

I am at a loss. I thought, two years into such a project, two years further into my life, I would have some answers. I would know something of value. I would mean something. Instead, I just find myself growing more and more frustrated with what my life has turned into. I lay awake at night and think about the decisions I made when I planned this future. I'm not sure that I regret my choices, but perhaps I could have made better ones. Perhaps I would be happier working a brainless job in an office all day. I could type out reports and that nonsense easily.

But I so desperately want to be inspired, which is why I chose this path. But the longer I continue to go forward with no real direction, the more hopelessly lost I feel. Even attempts at branching out are unsuccessful.

I just feel...lost. I have felt this way for so long that it is starting to feel normal. Of course I discuss this with Matt, but I just need to get it out, acknowledge it in the open, and try to move forward. I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to get upset thinking about the fact my life has been at a standstill for so long. I want to more forward, but I am stuck.

Again, I don't know if I have a point, or even know why I am posting this here. Perhaps I will regret it later, but right now, this is what I need.


  1. I think that meaning is something we all search for. Know that you have inspired me, Allie, with your heart and your enthusiasm. These two years are not wasted. Whether you will find a permanent job, whether you will find that something that pulls this altogether for you, I can't say. (Though I truly believe you will.) What I can say is that I admire and respect you, and read every one of your posts.

    Maybe (and this may so trite), maybe the meaning isn't in reaching the end, but in searching. Maybe the point isn't to touch a specific goal, but to walk, and be joyful in each moment.

    Something I love about my reading journey is that I can close my eyes whenever I'm sad, and they're all there. They're there when I'm happy: the stories, the authors, their lives and history. Every bit of what I've read has become a part of who I am. I'm not walking solo anymore. You have that, too.

  2. I am absolutely sure that the time will come when a prospective employer will be BLOWN AWAY by this project and will hire you because of it. What you have done here is amazing!

    This is kind of the same thing Jillian said, but don't forget that the journey is more important than the destination.

  3. Teaching is a hard job to get into. I was an adjunct making crap pay for two and a half years before getting a full time position. And I'm lucky in that I was looking for a position at a community college instead of P/K - 12 which I know has a huge surplus of teachers. Keep your head up and your fingers crossed!

    As far as the blog goes, I think you have accomplished a great deal and you should be proud of what you have done here.

  4. you've done an amazing job here and I am sure you are an amazing teacher, it seems horrible that there are now opportunities for you to do something you love and are talented at. I really hope that changes, although I don't know how it can. a few people I know who couldn't find teaching jobs here ended up north (I'm in canada, so I mean northern Alberta actually) and in other rural areas where there is more a teaching demand. not sure if that is a possibility for you. i really hope things finally fall into place for you, that sounds so incredibly frustrating.

  5. Allie I wholeheartedly agree with Trish above. I lucked out when I moved into teaching. My first year was the last "good" year before all of the hiring freezes and terminations. I have a friend right now who is still trying to find a teaching position. He taught last year, but was let go. I know he is deeply frustrated at the thought of subbing this coming school year.

    I know that this sounds like a pat on the back, but in all seriousness, it's NOT you, it's the system.

    But you know what? You are totally validated to scream and get frustrated. I know I would be. Just at the end of the day, know it's not you.

  6. Allie, you will find that you are not the only person who feels like this, who has felt like this of who will ever feel like this. It is very unfair when bad things like this happen to good people, but this is when you have to think positively. If everything happens for a reason, what is the universe trying to tell you? Maybe you should move from teaching at schools to trying to get a different teaching job, maybe lecturing? But it is probably that you are meant to make a bigger difference, and that will give you a more interesting story to tell at the end of the day.

    Don't give up hope, things have to get better, and who knows, one of these days the stars might just align for you to get the perfect teaching job at the perfect school. I know it is hard, but the lesson to learn here is more patience.

    And always remember that although your blog is not a classroom you teach all of us with your amazing posts and insight. So thank you, don't let the depression win, just spin the plate and look at things differently.

  7. Just to let you know I'm thinking of you, it will come! I love your project, and enjoy the blog, hang In there! xo

  8. Allie, I'm so sorry you're going through this. One of my closet friends graduated with a teaching degree and has been going through the same thing. She can get a position for a few months when someone takes maternity leave, but nothing permanent.

    I do hope you know how much I love your blog. It's been so much fun to follow your reading journey. You've discovered so many of my favorites and you've encouraged me to read some books that have intimidated me (Hello War & Peace). So thank you, and hang in there!

  9. I don't have the same issues, of course, but I do want to say I can relate and send you big hugs. :(

  10. It's ironic because with two English degrees I always thought to myself, "well, if nothing else I can teach." I work in insurance and absolutely love it and while I'm not getting the same dose of intellectual stimulation by talking about books and literature and the such each day, I am being stimulated in many other ways and its up to me to find the bookish part on my own time. I'm certainly not suggesting that you get a job in a cube just for the sake of having a job in a cube (I really lucked out), but I do want to say that there are other very validating jobs besides teaching. And perhaps you can use this blog to get that bookish fix or maybe volunteer at the library or for tutoring or the such.

    I know it's hard Allie. I'll be 30 in a week and still don't really feel like I have a good handle on what I'm going to do with my life. I also suffer with a bit of depression (actually going to doctor today for postnatal depression), so I know how that feels as well--even not feeling like you can fully talk to your spouse because it's the same coversation on a different day. I hope things look up for you--and like the others say, it's not you. Texas has always seemed to be rich in teachers but my local town just cut 25% of its teaching staff! Even to substitute its prefered you have a masters degree!!!

    Hugs to you...

  11. My heart goes out to you Allie, I know how difficult and frustrating it is to find a job.

    I was unemployed for a while and, like you, I kept busy not only to pay the bills but get out of the house.

    I gotten several part time jobs in my industry (IT) which kept me in the running for job because it shows as experience during the dot-bomb era. I even taught.

    Did you try to get jobs in private schools, teaching skills like MS Word, Excel, or how to write resumes?

    It looks great because it shows you had face time in front of a class.

  12. Dearest sister,

    You need to think of how many people you HAVE inspired. Sure life has been tough for you, but God doesn't put hardship in your life if he doesn't think you can pull through it. That's what living is about.

    And you've done that. You're pulling through, and your hard work IS paying off, whether you think so or not. Look at how many people follow your blog and read it because of how great of a writer you are. You have talent, there's no doubt about that. And you're showing it off on here, which is an accomplishment because 2 years is a long time and look how faithful you've been to this.

    And the job is going to come through. Isn't that what an odyssey is? A long journey that gets you to the point you want to be at? That's what you're in right now and you need to keep pushing through because it can only get better.

    Just remember, you have gained progress and you ARE moving forward. Soon enough, in a couple of years, I'm going to be where you're at right now and you're gonna be some super cool teacher with 10 bestseller books, and I'm going to be looking to you for help because you've gone through this and made through it.

  13. Though I've only been following your blog for a few months, it's one of the ones I love the most and relate to best. So many other blogs out there focus on the newest, shiniest books and I never have. I love that you are reading the classics one by one and admire your project. No one can say what the future will hold, but at least you're not twiddling your thumbs waiting for something to happen. You are making good use of your time by reading some of the most influential and significant pieces of literature in the world. That is certainly not time wasted. Hang in there!

  14. I can't truly know how you feel but know that I am yet another person who enjoys what you do with this blog. You will find your way, though it doesn't seem like it at the moment. Maybe part of it is to just let go and not be so hard on yourself. Sometimes just giving yourself a break and letting the Universe take over for a while is liberating. You have a roof over your head, a great husband, shelves of books, bills that are getting paid, etc. You may not have it all now, but you have all that you need. :)

  15. I so understand what you're going through. Like Trish, I was an adjunct for two years, barely making it. Plus, I'm single, and it was really scary to know I had no one to fall back on if I didn't get paid.

    I finally got a full-time job this past year, but it's split position. I am grateful for it and have been grateful for it until my uni decided not to pay me over the summer. And I had absolutely no recourse other than to sue because it's a state agency, and the state cannot help you when it's one of their own. So I've been muddling through, depressed and hurt because I've put so many years into a uni that obviously doesn't care.

    All that to say, it sucks, and it's hard. BUT you are doing something meaningful, in the classroom and out of it. And I've found in the last couple of months that sometimes the really bad bad times give way for new creative venues. So look for the good things, and look for the blessings. They are there, I promise.

    Feel better soon. jenn

  16. We were actually talking about this (sort of) yesterday at lunch with my boyfriend's dad. About how when he graduated it was just known that you would find a job and you would stay in that job your whole life. And how that's so different now, that many, many people have a hard time finding a position in the field they trained in.

    I was a substitute teacher for four years before I found a job outside of teaching...and this was 14 years ago. Teaching is a tough field to get into, unfortunately.

    So I guess what I'm saying is don;t give up on the other things you feel passionately about, like reading and blogging, because it's important to have that passion about something that you can actually control.

  17. Oh, Allie, I'm so sorry you feel that way. But when you listen to the news or read the papers, I think it's clear the whole world is struggling to make ends meet and get through the day. That doesn't make it any easier for individuals, of course, but I would just like to reiterate what others have said - it's NOT you, it's the entire situation. I know how terrifying it can be to go to interview after interview and have nothing work out. But you just have to know that you have something great to offer, and SOMEONE will take a chance on you, even if it's not quite what you thought you wanted in the first place.

  18. Oh, I am sorry to hear this. I well empathize with you because I have been in similar positions at various times in my life. One thing to remember is that you are more than your job (which translates to "you are still a valuable human being even if you're earning minimum wage"). When I graduated with my Master's degree, the only position I could find was as a hostess at a restaurant. I would greet and sit people, and answer the phone. Gaaah. Very frustrating. However, it wasn't forever, and eventually, I got a break and my first "real" job. I do believe that the same thig will happen to you.
    I know being under-employed/unemployed is very hard on everything (income, ego, mental health etc.), but keep on sending your CV out there. Also, perhaps you might think about graduate school? That could help you with your qualifications and you are obviously smart enough.

    All to say: hang tough. Times are hard, but you will survive and thrive. Don't give up on yourself or your dream of a productive healthy life. It is out there somewhere for you.

    BTW, I don't really understand why people say the twenties are the "best years of your life". Mine stunk. However, I *can* say that life gets better as you get older. It's almost as though you have to earn it in a way by going through a certain amount of crap.

    In which case, your life will be brilliant in a while. :-)

  19. Oh Allie, if it makes a difference, I think you are amazing and that you deserve that job you've been searching for. Life can be really tough and unfair sometimes, but know that you are not alone.

    Aaand, I love your blog. You were one of my first blog friends. I am also approaching my second year, and I think I've known you since the beginning almost.

    Don't give up!

  20. Allie, it is absolutely not you, it is the situation. Your posts about teaching show so much passion for what happens in the classroom-don't give up. And it is not your fault that you don't have a job-not byany stretch of the imagination. In any other economy you would have been snapped up by some lucky school, and they would have held on to you for life. Have you considered starting a writing project about your experiences? Your story (trying to find a job, the books, the blog) would lend itself to a memoir. I would read it!

  21. Allie, I really feel for you. I was fortunate to get a job straight out of school, but when I lost it this winter, there was a bit of shock, of the "but I thought I did everything right" variety. I watch my brother struggle with the fact that he hasn't been able to find a full-time job in the 4 years since he graduated. There's nothing easy about it, about the search, about the economy. I really understand how difficult it is to even begin to know what to do, what steps to take.

    Your blog here is wonderful. This outlet, this step of self-learning you have created. Your dedication to this project proves that you have what it takes to do whatever you want, to accomplish your goals, wherever they may take you. And I think the fact that you were contacted specifically by a teacher to sub for her speaks very highly of you and your abilities. Hang in there. Hopefully everything will work out soon.

  22. I just wanted to chime in with my good wishes. I love reading your blog and whenever you talk aboutbyour teaching I can really feel how much you love it. It is inspiring, and I think any kid would be lucky to learn from you.

    Like lots of the commenters above, my journey to a full time teaching job was really stressful and sometimes discouraging. However, when it did happen I couldn't believe my luck. It will happen for you too. Also, don't forget that what you are doing in the meantime is valuable as well, both to the kids you teach and as part of your professional journey.

  23. I honestly don't think I can say much to comfort you, but I think everyone can relate and understand you in a way. That to me should be comfort - knowing that you're really not alone in this situation.

    I feel the same way you do, but in terms of education and college. A bunch of unexpected circumstances occurred which lead to taking a break from school, and here I am, starting university "all over again." When I graduated high school I always thought, in 4 years, I'd be graduating. But that's not the case, is it?

    What really brings me up is the fact that, I know everybody is different. People graduate when they're 18, some when they're 40. No matter what age, they've still reached success. And I know for me, I WILL reach that point in my life too. I just have to wait and see when the right time is for me.

    So I hope knowing that a lot of people understand you and your situation is comfort in itself. Feel better, and keep trying. You will get what you want eventually :)

  24. Gosh. I know it must be depressing, but keep your head up! Just to reinterate what everyone else has already said, the fact that you do not have a permanant teaching position does not in any way reflect on your skills or value as an educator! It isn't you, it is just the current job market in this field! With so many experienced teachers out of work, it is just that much harder for newer teachers to get their foot in the door. In some districts in NY, positions that used to have a few hundred applicants now have closer to a thousand applicants. I think that when the market does finally turn around, you will have an extra leg up due to your long term sub experience and the work you do here on your blog. In the mean time, I would continue with the long term sub positions when available, maybe think about taking some more classes toward some kind of graduate degree, maybe look into other careers involving literature. Have you given any thought to writing ... fiction or non-fiction? This might be a perfect time for that!

    Just know, the project and blog do have meaning ... to your loyal followers! You are the reason why I started my own project and blog. Although you may not always realize it, you are one inspiring woman!!

  25. I would add my cheers of admiration to the group, Allie. It's a sucky time for teachers, and who knew we would ever say that? Teaching and nursing used to be the sure things, so we're seeing some real changes due to the economy. It's so not you. You've shared much of what you do in your classrooms, and any high school or college I've ever worked for would be glad to have you. Keep on chuggin along, and what you've done here on the blog is nothing short of impressive. You're consistent, thoughtful, analytical, and well-spoken. You're a dreamy blogger and just as good an educator. You educate me a little more every time I read your blog, in fact. We all *heart* you. Remember how much support you have all across the world. :)

  26. I know you've posted this a long time ago and I'm just really late to the game here, but I love your blog, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You make a difference to me. Even when I take months between commenting and reading....