Narrative of a Teacher and Book Lover

Letting go of Fear and Embracing Change

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Yesterday, I said goodbye to my fourteenth group of seniors here at LHS. It’s always bittersweet to wish a class farewell. The students are a bundle of emotions: excited, nervous, fearful of embracing change. And we, their teachers, are sorry to see them go, but hopeful for the futures that await them. This year, however, was even more emotional for me. Because this year was my last group of seniors at LHS.

After six years of suffering a long commute, I finally made the decision to begin looking for a position closer to home. Sort of. I determined to be choosy about where I would apply. I love my job, and I certainly wouldn’t compromise my ideal classroom just to have a shorter drive. So I sent out a total of three resumes, and assumed I wouldn’t really have to make that life-altering decision.

But sometimes it seems a greater power takes charge. I was invited to interview at two of my three choices. I knew the first one was not the right fit and it was easy to settle back into the ordinary routine. But the second one was different. I fell in love with the campus. The students felt like “my” students. Conversations with the faculty and staff flowed easily (definitely a plus for an introvert such as myself!). This felt right. So when they offered me the position, I found myself standing before two roads diverged in a yellow wood (Take the English teacher’s advice and click the link to read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” if you’re unfamiliar with the reference).

Like my seniors, I was excited by the prospects that might await me, but terrified to face the unknown. Years spent in the same place leads to a sense of complacency. It may not always be perfect where you are, but it’s comfortable. The hardships are familiar, and therefore easier to contend with. But not embracing change and giving in to fear makes you a prisoner of your own mind.

Five Tips for Making Big Decisions

1. Make a list of pros and cons…and then consider their importance

The first thing I did after being offered the position was to sit down and make a list of all of the pros and cons. My list was actually pretty even on both sides. But I didn’t stop with just the list. I gave a rank to each item. Items of less importance received a one, the most important received a five. When it was all said and done, my pros list outweighed the cons. Nearly all the reasons to turn down the new position were purely sentimental.

2. Don’t allow yourself to be ruled by your emotions

When I sat down and looked at my list, I realized that I couldn’t allow my emotions to blind me to the advantages that might await me. Sure, I love my coworkers, I adore my students, and I feel a sense of loyalty to the community I have been a part of for well over a decade. But a shorter commute would mean more time for my family, more time supporting my students, and less stress overall. And there’s little doubt that I will eventually grow just as fond of my new position.

3. Always work towards reducing stress

Your happiness is greatly tied to your stress levels. It can even wear on your overall health, as discussed in this article from the American Psychological Association. If you can choose a path that will help alleviate the stress in your life, than you should take it.

4. Be open to the signs

I choose to pray about major life decisions. I feel confident that my dad, who passed away eight years ago, sends me occasional signs to guide me towards the correct path. Even if you aren’t one to pray, the universe has a way of sending you signals. Be open to those signs, and follow the path they direct you towards.

5. Listen to your instincts

When it was all said and done, I listened to my gut. Would I be sad to leave LHS and the people that I have grown so close to? Absolutely. Was it heart-wrenching to break the news to my students? Utterly. But once I made up my mind to accept the position, it just felt right. I am certain I will be happy there, and that my quality of life will improve thanks to the time gained and the stress of travel relieved.

Just as my seniors are bravely saying goodbye to their childhoods and embracing their journey towards adulthood, I, too, am embracing the change before me. I am excited to embark on this new journey; to share my passion for teaching with a new group of students and a different school. The students of LHS inspired me every day to become a better teacher, and if I am successful in my new position, it is in no small part because of them.

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  • Scott J DeNicola

    It is so vitally important to listen to your intuition and trust it. Most of the time it doesn’t let you down. I went through similar job change stress throughout my life and always used many of the steps you listed here. The end goal should always be to reduce stress and do what’s best for you! Great post, very helpful information.

    • Snehal

      Well I am someone who is always listening to my intuitions. But also I fear a lot espeically when it is a biggg decision. Will keep your tips in mind. And you will be an awesome teacher to the new students. 🙂

  • Lyosha

    Saying good buy to the class is always bitter sweet. your post is very useful to me too – I am on the verge of big changes in my life. excited? – yes. scared? – also yes.

  • Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    Change is always scary, no matter how big or small it is. But I always think that if it doesn’t terrify me a little bit, it isn’t really worth doing. I love your idea of ranking the pros and cons based on importance. I can’t say I’ve done that part of making my list before. That is definitely being added to my list-making from now on! I am excited for your new adventure and hearing more about it in the fall! I am sure your new students will love you just as much as the old ones, and you will learn and grow even more with this new environment.

  • Trish Veltman

    Oh, that end of year goodbye with the students is always an emotional time – so much more so when you are moving on to. All the best in your new position.

    Useful decision-making tips – particularly listing pros and cons. Always helps me clarify things in my mind.

  • Tracy C

    I can’t imagine changing schools. I’ve been in my district for 22 years–12 at the high school and 10 at the middle school. The staff is like family, and the students as well. I look forward to having younger siblings in class later, and am just now having students in class who are children of former students. However, I have a 15 minute commute. In the end, you have to do what’s best for you. You’ll forge the same types of relationships at your new school–it sounds like a good fit!

  • Elizabeth | Tiredmom Supermom

    Well said. I honestly believe the most important thing is to go with your gut, as long as you’ve done the research and weighed the pros and cons. Your gut will want to go with the pro heavy option, mostof the time!

  • By Joanna K

    Change is a vital part of life. We do a course, move to a new house, pick up a new hobby because we want to bring change to our life.
    Tip 4 resonates with me. It reminds me of Paulo Coelho, who points out that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” When you know what you want, you can be open to the signs.
    Enjoy the new post.

  • Thuy

    Facing fears and change are the way to grow. I regret not trusting my instincts when I was younger and I thought I was being irrational or emotional, but in actuality I was just in-tune with my world and my instinct were valid.

  • Debra Roberts

    I’ll bet you really do get attached to your students! I still recall my favorite teachers and I’m 52! As for change, that is tough when you consider stepping out of that comfort zone. I had a 55 minute commute at one time and for many years, to my job. One of the BEST things I ever did was change jobs and cut it down to 20 minutes…which also involved a move from the country to the suburbs, something I said I’d never do. But, I’ve never once regretted it. Change is so good for the soul, it’s like a total life reset, even though you’re only changing one thing! Good luck!

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