Career change is possible but it takes time. Embracing failure and imperfection (instead of fearing it) took me places and opened up possibilities. I found my dream job in my late 30s. I will share my journey, adventures, and choices.
Part II: The Turning Point. When I hit the lowest point and my path of change and current life.
For Part I, read my previous blog on the topic.
Looking back, I’m amused by the attitudes of some people around me. Some act as if leaving my career for another career is equally scandalous as leaving a husband for another man (or woman for the matter)? It’s as if I’m somehow supposed to lay low and carry on with a “fake it till you make it” when it comes to my career. After all, this was the path I chose. I’m supposed to make it work. I get it. Every job has its ups and downs. This was beyond that.
Dealing with a career failing is tough, but it only gets worse when even the most well-meaning ask questions that serve no real purpose other than make me feel stupid, ashamed, or more anxious.
You may say, don’t worry what people think. But let’s be honest. Humans are social beings and when you’re at your most vulnerable or facing a tough situation, it’s harder to stand up to the most frivolous people over petty things. Here are examples:
— “But you spent all this time on your degree and you’re quitting?”
Ummm… does she think I’m not aware of the time and effort spent on my college degree? Or that I have a rich uncle who paid my entire tuition; and therefore, oblivious to the cost of my education? Or that I spent my college days obsessing over my nails or mingling with the boys (and sometimes girls as I’m bisexual but closeted back in the day) instead of the hard work of studying, student activities, and everything else a college education demands.
— “What are you going to do after that?”
Go find another job. Duh!
I should have been happier. I was teaching abroad in Singapore. I enjoyed living in Singapore and that experience expanded my horizons. I met many people who positively impacted my life.
On the inside, I was struggling. Constant migraines, pain, exhaustion. I still kept going. I kept going even though I was exhausted to the max. It worsened. After my first period class, I would feel either sleepy or ready to collapse. All it took was one class to tire me out.
By the end of the day, I was so exhausted that I wanted to crash. The next day, the same cycle though I didn’t fully recover from the previous day. They said: pray harder, have more faith, be positive.
Daily, I felt myself getting worse. I felt like I was drowning but told to swim faster or how to improve my technique when I asked for help.
Then, my principal asked me if teaching is really a fit for me. At first, I denied it. Eventually, I realized that he was right. My physical exhaustion was getting in the way of teaching. I was cranky, impatient, marking papers wrong…because I couldn’t focus. I was losing it. I needed to go.
Accepting failure as a teacher was the hardest moment. I cried. I didn’t want to talk about my struggles because I didn’t feel safe from judgment. I felt alone in this place.
Instead, I talked to my other friends outside of school employees and church. Why am I putting myself through all this? I also saw what “church family” was really about. Not family. An enmeshed circle of codependence. Not church family but about conformity and control.
I wanted to leave. And I knew I must. I felt trapped again. I couldn’t tell anyone that. I also couldn’t tell anyone that I was struggling with depression, migraines, and other things.
Fortunately, in the toxic community of religion, I found someone I could confide in. When the news of my departure came out, I discovered that not everyone was a self-righteous, asshole disguising their poor attitude with religious piety. There were about 2 or 3 sensible and genuine people who reached out to me when I said I’m leaving. I don’t know what I’d done without them. Having 2–3 people among a crowd of jerks make a difference.
Eventually, I accepted the thought that I’m leaving teaching and embraced uncertainty. Leaving teaching meant leaving Singapore as well. Unless I married a Singaporean, I couldn’t stay as a foreigner. Changing careers abroad is tough. There was this handsome Indian-Singaporean guy who took me out on a couple of dates but nothing serious happened. I got a call for a marketing/social media job but when she spoke to me and asked about my citizenship, she couldn’t interview foreigners. So, it was time to return to the USA.
I decided to move to Boston. I had my reasons. Years ago, I visited Boston and simply fell in love with the city. I didn’t want to move back to Portland, Oregon. I hated living there. One of the reasons is the rain. I love Boston’s progressiveness such as being the first state to allow gay marriage, universal health care through a single tax-payer insurance, and legalizing marijuana. But, people will vote outside the party lines too. Our governor is Republican but he is sensible during Covid.
I reached out through my old contacts, found temporary housing, and an old friend lived in Boston. My old Boston connected me to a recruiter who was good at revising resumes. I took her feedback and revamped my resume. I had savings that’d last me for a couple of months. My plan was to simply take any job available, find roommates, network, and spread my roots. I didn’t know what to expect out of Boston. I curbed expectations as I wanted to discover and be present in experiencing life.
The next installment, Part III will cover my time in Boston to the present where I am a book marketer (and I’m still in Boston!)
Indu Guzman is a book marketer and publicist living in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Occasionally, she edits literary fiction as well. Before settling down in the Boston suburbs, she lived in 5 countries (India, Dubai U.A.E, U.S.A, Argentina, Singapore) and visited many others. Experiencing the larger world helped Indu see the universal themes among the human experience. In other words, we all have much more in common than differences. She explores third-culture kid experience, family dynamics, trauma and loss through her fiction. She can be found at the-penlife.com