I’ve reached the point in my teaching career where I feel like I’m wasting my life. The skills I teach, writing, critical thinking, and to a lesser extent reading, seem life relics of a bygone era, and every semester, not only are the students less prepared coming into class, they also tend to act more resistant to learning even the basics. Sure, there are the occasional gems and the dedicated adults, but their numbers dwindle with each year. Now, after 14 years in the classroom, I truly feel burnt out, used up, frustrated, and ready for a substantive change.
Those who have followed me for a while have heard me gripe about these feelings before, but now, I can’t stress loudly enough that I really, really, really need out. I feel like I’m suffocating from the demands of the job, and with each passing hour of class prep and grading, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve lost yet another hour that could’ve been spent doing something more productive and more fulfilling for me. Right now, I’m honestly only here for the paycheck, and considering how paltry the money is in comparison to the effort required, that’s simply not adequate motivation to continue.
The downside is that I know I’m stuck for at least another year and a half because I’m too close to having my retirement vested to walk away today, and while that amount of money may not be enormous, it is enough that I would be stupid not to tough it out for at least 18 more months. But with every single day and every single essay graded, I feel a little piece of myself die and know the time wasted on most of the papers is that much less time left in my life to write my own works. I know there are some of you who feel trapped in your jobs and can relate to what I’m expressing.
The good part is now that my health is coming back, my focus is returning to the farm. Without that prospect of hope, I’m not certain I could make it, but having the opportunity to get it going provides me with at least the sense of an escape route. Over the next few months, I’m going to throw myself back into that project and make as much progress as I can. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, hopefully it will become productive enough that two years from now I can walk away from education permanently. One of the only things I know for certain is that I don’t have much more than that left in me.