I had an aunt (a great-aunt I think) who started life as a housewife and mother, but who had a dream. She held onto that dream until she was in her forties and all of her children were on their feet and in the world before she took the steps to make it come true. She went back to school and became a biology teacher. I had her in tenth grade and she was a tough, nonsense sort of teacher. She never threw a softball, she never picked a favorite. Her class was tough for me while pretty much everything else I did was easy. Looking back, I have to say that made her a really good teacher.
Like my aunt, my dream and my life took different paths after high school. I did start college, but something got into me, sending me on my way to eight years in the Navy. I learned an awful lot about electronics and came home with two young children, a husband who wasn’t a local, and a dream placed firmly on the back burner. I took my mother’s advice, something I highly recommend to almost everyone, focused on the computer work I did in the military, and somehow landed an IT job. I’ve been doing it ever since. I even went back to school and got my degree in Information Technology, mostly because all the transfer credit from the schools I attended in the Navy made the major a no-brainer.
I often love what I do. It can be challenging, frustrating, exciting, and boring. I get so pulled into what I am working on that I miss lunch and birthday cake and quitting time. It could absorb me totally if I would let it. It has absorbed me in the past, back before I learned to expand the sources of my self-worth to include things besides a good work ethic and kudos from the bosses. It’s rewarding to solve problems and make things work. It’s mind-crushingly horrible when I can’t figure things out, though. I don’t like that.
There are times when the failures seem to pile up and I think what I need to do is look for a new place to work. I change jobs and discover that the work has not, in fact, changed. I might be supporting a different Windows operating system, another manufacturer’s enterprise backup, or the competitor’s application deployment software but it is really all the same. I don’t hate it, but I am beginning to realize that it is not my dream. I am also seeing that maybe my dream doesn’t have to die. Maybe I can follow in my aunt’s footsteps and do a bit of a mid-life exploration.
With that in mind, I filled out an application today for a second bachelor’s in English Education at the school where I work. I printed off copies of my transcript and my DD-214 and carried them over to the admission’s counselor, and danced all the way back to my office. I have no idea how I will handle full time work and going to school, but in my heart I know it will work out. I also am aware that my dream may not be obtainable – I might get to the point where I am student teaching and decide it was all crazy talk and walk right away.
But I might not.
There is a chance, a good chance, that in a few years, I will be teaching English. When all of the young teachers, kids younger than my own children, are off working summer jobs, I will be home writing books. I will walk down a new path, and perhaps learn that it was the road I was meant to be on all along. I can hardly wait to get started.