I'm six months out of my old life. Why do I keep setting up situations that could lead me to slide back into it?
When I decided it was time to stop teaching and working in my old job, I originally thought I'd stick it out until the end of the academic year. Then, I was going to hold out until the start of 2018. I made it until the end of October. This means that 4/25/18 will be the official six month mark of my leaving.
I told myself that I would, at a minimum, give myself a year to decide if I wanted to go back to teaching. Yet today I sent an email declining an interview for a job I applied for about ten days ago.
One part of my reasoning in applying for the job was that it was for graduate courses in my discipline--that's something I never got to do before. I looked at it as kind of a bucket list item when I applied and I reasoned that they probably wouldn't even contact me for an interview. When they did, though, I started questioning why I even applied in the first place. Did I really want to sign up for a job teaching 15-20 students online in a completely standardized course where I made up none of the discussion questions and had no input on the assessments whatsoever? At the pay rate, that's about $250 a week for a ten week course. If I only have ten students, that's $25/week per student--and I know that I'll spend more than than an hour per student given the grading load and the interaction in the discussion board.
I talked to some people who teach for the institution at the grad level, as well as a student at the grad level in my field there, and determined that I was setting myself up for disappointment. The student tried to change my mind, pointing to the fact that the courses are pre-set and that the readings were relatively light--two ideas that actually swayed me to not pursue toe position further.
Looking more closely at my motivation to apply and I realized the ad came out right before Amazon announced that Kindle Scout was being discontinued. My plan with Elegant Freefall was to leverage Scout to get the book to new readers and hopefully see more exposure. I didn't think I'd win my campaign--that wasn't my ultimate goal. But, I hoped that it would give me some effortless and free marketing even if I didn't win.
Now I have to step up and do my own marketing once I'm done with the book. And, that's part of the reason I promised myself that I would give myself a year away from the safety net of teaching. I am an addict to the validation that a teaching position gives you--at least it does in tiny doses when the students are not complaining about what a horrible teacher you are or in those moments where you craft a good post that shows the years of training you have or you can point to an article you wrote and had published somewhere as "proof" you're good enough to teach the next round of graduate students.
I've taken a couple of other hits, recently, including an odd interaction with someone about an author event they wanted me to attend. It turns out they confused me with another writer in Arkansas. So, I know I'm looking for validation and the ad came out in a vulnerable moment.
I thought about the job all weekend as we drove to Wynne to see Dani's dad and her grandma (who is turning 90 soon). We talked about it, I emailed with people who know what the position is like, and today after I picked up Sophie from the boarder and took her walking, went to Wal-Mart, and had lunch, I emailed the recruiter and gracefully declined the interview.
The friend/colleague/grad student who was talking through it with me emailed me this morning to ask "What could it hurt?" to take the job. I have a lot of responses:
What do I have to gain by NOT doing the interview and NOT sliding back into my dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship with teaching?
In short, going back is the safe thing. As uncomfortable as I claim going back to teaching would be, it's still more comfortable than the risks of doing what I set out to do. The devil you know is still the devil.