When You Just Can’t Win

Want to know a secret?

Tomorrow might be my last day as a teacher…ever.

A few summers ago, I went to visit my friend in Minnesota. The midwest full of new experiences, but I was most startled by my friend who introduced me with, “This if my friend Krystal. She’s the teacher.”

I paused for a second. Obviously I was a teacher, but I felt uncomfortable by the qualifier. I had just finished my first year teaching, but I was a bit struck: teaching wasn’t my identity.

Don’t get me wrong: I love teaching. Every day I am offered the chance to impact over a hundred students. Am I successful? Well sometimes. I am not a perfect (pretty sure perfect teachers are like unicorns) but I’m doing the best I can. I have good ideas and own my mistakes. I want to get better and some kids really like my style. Other kids aren’t as into it…but it’s public school. For the most part, I seem to be doing okay. At least that’s the vibe I’m getting from my administrators, who all have marked me as Proficient…

So why the heck did I lose my job?

Yeah. That’s a thing.

Language matters, and although I’d like to paint my entire life with an endless stream of IGOTFIREDIGOTFIREDIGOTFIRED, I’m not. Because I didn’t get fired.

Long story short: I was hired on a conditional contract and some higher up person came to my classroom for 15 minutes and decided I wasn’t up to snuff. Sorry, feel free to start the application process over again, but for now, you might want to start packing up because you’re not coming back in August.

I didn’t get fired.

But that’s what it feels like.

My identity might not be in my profession but losing my job made me realize my identity has always been rooted in my success.

Here’s a few that I take particular pride in (but really amount to nothing):

  • I was Student of the Year (twice)
  • Two of my pieces were published in the Whitworth literary magazine
  • One piece was actually picked up by a website
  • I co-hosted a radio show and got one of our favorite British artists to record an intro for us
  • I got to teach for two years without a real certificate

Of course I’ve failed before. Friends. Family. Choosing kindness over bitterness. But those all felt trivial and were remedied by sincere apology. I can’t really apologize myself out of this one.

And it feels like life seems to be trying to teach me a lesson about my pride, because it’s not just my career; my life feels littered with failure. Like the seven jobs and counting that have turned me down (yes, it did go up). And my crush who I’m pretty sure doesn’t like me back (yes, I realize I’m being 12). And a whole bunch of other things that feel too personal to write in a blog post.

So what do you do when you keep on losing?

Cut your losses and bolt?

Stay and weather the storm?

I don’t know.

But in case you also have no idea what your immediate future looks like, feel free to grab a paddle and come row alongside me. Because this? 

It freaking sucks.

And misery?

I hear it loves company.

(image source)


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