Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Do You Know If You've Chased the Wrong Dream?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/
Several years ago, I decided to ditch the private sector world and a career as a magazine editor to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. At the time, my husband and I had just moved to a town outside of Philly. I enrolled in a  teaching program and earned my certificate. While I thought I wanted to teach middle school English/Language Arts, I was offered the position of  7th grade remedial reading teacher. From the day I started until the day I resigned to return to the Midwest, I loved it. It was truly my dream job, and I was good at it. I couldn't learn enough fast enough. My passion and enthusiasm was over the top!

As soon as we got settled back in Missouri, I began looking for a teaching position. My goal was to replicate my PA experience and find work as a reading specialist. Around this time, the economy began to show signs of softening, and education was taking a huge financial hit. I taught as a long-term sub for about a year and a half, with no sign of landing a permanent position in sight. Meanwhile, I earned my graduate degree in literacy education, holding onto my dream of working with middle schoolers who needed help their reading skills. Nothing. No interviews. Barely any jobs to interview for.

About a week before the 2011-2012 school year started, I was offered a position at a charter school. I accepted it because it came with the opportunity to teach both English/Language Arts and Remedial Reading as well as tinker in the library. Was this another chance at a dream job? You'll find the answer to that question here and here. The remedial reading aspect of the job never materialized, and my passion and enthusiasm quickly disintegrated in an environment of constant stress, mismanagement, and unnecessary competition.

I made the decision not to return to the charter school this year, and it was the right one for me. But now, I'm left wondering if I chased the wrong dream. I just finished reading Ron Clark's book, The End of Molasses Classes. In one section, he writes about his hiring process for teachers.
There are a lot of teachers who are passionate about their curriculum, and there are some who like the idea of teaching more than they actually enjoy teaching children. Their classroom is very neat and their lesson plan is crisp, but they act as if the kids are ruining the scene by having the gall to simply be there.
As Iread these words, and the read them again, I couldn't ignore my inner voice, which screamed,  "That's you! That's you!"

Did my Ideal Reality and my Real Reality clash in the ugliest of ways? Or is that me because of last year's experience? Am I just suffering from temporary burnout? Or is it me because I chased the wrong dream? I'm back to writing and editing right now. Is that what I'm supposed to be doing? How do I know?

How about you? Have you ever chased the wrong dream? Or thought you did, but didn't? I'd love to hear from you.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... keep it real.


  1. You and I think too much alike! I, too, feel I chased the wrong dream by going to pharmacy school. At first I really enjoyed it, but then reality hit and the constant stress, complaining customers, etc. just got to me. I think I went to pharmacy school because I was "chasing the dream" that started when I was growing up working in my dad's pharmacy. The practice of pharmacy back then was way different than it is today and therein lies the problem! I'm not working now as I can't bear the thought of being in WalMart, etc. running around like a chicken with her head cut off! Oh, what should I be when I grow up????

  2. I find comfort in knowing I'm not the only one. Thanks for reading!