The greater part of my adult life was as a teacher – not counting the three years of singing and acting, touring clubs with a cover band. While singing was fun and fulfilling on many levels, it was not enough for me…but that’s another story.
What matters is you and your experience.
What drove me to teaching wasn’t just an intolerance for instability – it was fulfillment on a deeper level. The first time I choreographed a couple of numbers for the school musical (I was a regular sub at the time), it was fun. But the hook was watching my little nestlings take flight – making the choreographic expression their own. I didn’t need to be front and center performing; it was more fulfilling to watch the kids grow, to be part of their journey.
That may sound selfless, but any director knows it isn’t – not really. Whatever you find fulfilling is what does it for you, is what makes you happy. If that happens to be creating opportunities for young people and enjoying their success, then that’s what works.
Back to your bad day.
Perspective adjustment: no matter what your career is, you’re going to have bad days. Sometimes, life is just hard and things suck. As a teacher, you are sheltered from the majority of the basic challenges in life; sign the contract and you’ve got a steady paycheck, health insurance, IRA options, opportunities for growth. You’re automatically part of a support system that is there for you, whether you realize it or not. You can collaborate, contribute and be creative every single day that you go to work. Although you have parameters and requirements, you also have chances to make the class your own, since you are the teacher. The classes and program will inevitably bear the mark of who you are. That motivates you to be a better person, so that you can be a better teacher. So your job is all about the journey of self-improvement and its domino effect on your learning community.
You also get to be an artist. Maybe not in that romantic, pseudo-glamorous (and believe me, it is PSEUDO) way of sacrificing health, hearth and home for your art – but you get to create and collaborate with guest artists, with young artists, and teaching artists – you are immersed in art! Some of the young artists you teach and direct will be the few magical beings who are meant to shine on Broadway or Hollywood or other successful venues. Then you get to claim a little particle of their fairy dust and remember their journey with fondness.
You get paid for holidays, you get paid for sick days, and yes – teachers deserve every benefit they can get. But the truth is that other people deserve benefits that simply aren’t available to them, and they just have to struggle and make do. You are one of the chosen ones who has a meaningful and financially sustaining career. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
You work hard. There are great kids and there are tough kids. There are amazing colleagues who become friends and awesome administrators and parents who make you appreciate the ones who fall short. Put on your “big-person panties” and count your blessings. Being an adult in any case isn’t always fun, but you get to play. You get to be a teacher.
You are more fortunate than most.
Hope this helps,