When I Quit the Thing That I Love To Do
I am an academician.
I quit my position as an academic coordinator two months ago.
I have not retired but decided to hit the pause button. It is like putting down your favourite book which you have been reading without any breaks. You have been with it for too long and you got too involved in the plot so that the boundaries between reality and fiction have blurred. So you close the book and decide to take a stroll down the garden path and relish the beauty of the myriad forms of nature around you which went unobserved for long. That’s what I am up to now. Untangling my mind hoping to restore the love for what I love doing.
I would call myself a causality of the pandemic which reset our lives. I was an academic coordinator for primary school, with a reputed institution. At end of each academic session, the student numbers swelled and so did the proportion of teachers. But this year, the unexpected lockdown led to a hiring freeze. Classes shifted online and the management decided to get the show on the road with the existing teachers.
This led to a plethora of problems. Classes were combined with almost 60 students in each. Teachers wrestled with mastering the nuances of the online platform while maintaining discipline and giving equal attention to all students.
Parents too were battling work from home, pay cuts, and layoffs while the school did not rescind the fee hike. It was a universal struggle for finding balance amidst the uncertainties and it was the teachers and coordinators who were used as the human shield by the management against the pouring hostility and ire of the parents.
At one point of time as an academic coordinator, I had the responsibility of answering to the parents of 950 students. My days and nights merged. I couldn’t make out when one ended and the other began. While I tried to be a Rock of Gibraltar for my team, I did not have a sounding board nor a punching bag. It was three times work with 30% cuts in salary. I had stretched myself too thin, and I cracked. I could neither keep up with the expectations placed on me by my team and management nor juggle my own family and my emotional well being. I realized that I had to step down to keep my own sanity and that is what I did.
Stepping aside and giving up something you love doing, is not an easy decision to make. Even though it was one of those rare instances where your heart and mind both allied in decision making, sometimes you are in self-doubt.
It takes will power to not stroll away from the trail and wander into the woods that are lovely, dark and deep. Freedom from having to find solutions for the unending problems and challenges is exhilarating. Not having to set an alarm and indulging in activities which you would otherwise feel guilty of doing is intoxicating.
It is too easy to lose your focus and direction. I am scared that I would wander too far away from home. So I have a spool in my pocket with one end tied to the wrist of the person I love most. We pull back and forth, I, when I am overcome by fear and he when I loiter around too long.
The scariest part of quitting something is not the quitting itself, but picking yourself up especially when you do not have a safety net. You are no more earning and the loss of the steady income that you had will force a lifestyle change. You will feel low, probably the lowest you have ever felt yet, but it is alright. There might be some things that you are passionate about. Think about how that can be turned into a means of earning money. You will not find overnight success. You will have to scrape and scrounge the barrel till you start feeling contented again.
The most important aspect is to keep away from negative people. You won’t find everyone supporting your decision to quit. You need to block out these negative noises and focus on your journey.
I always loved writing. As an introvert, I felt it easier to express myself through written words. I had blogs that had my musings and ramblings which were not updated in years. I picked from where I paused. I had a lot more people in my audience now, who liked to read my musings.
I had my first article published in an International online magazine and that was a shot in the arm that I needed. The second was published in a blog and I had another editor approaching me for reblogging the same as it addressed social issues
It may not be much. But I have begun my healing and I am learning to walk again. I have just taken my first step and am slowly reconstructing my confidence.
When I was sharing the news with my youngest sister, she reminded me that the first-ever story I had written was for her when she was 6 or 7 years old. It was about a rooster that escaped being curried and went for an adventure with his partner. His adventures ended before it even started as I did not complete the story.
I have not yet started dreaming of big dreams as a writer. I am moving forward one step at a time. Currently, this is my way of self-care.
Also, I am not packing up my teacher’s tool kit. Not yet. The reason is, I don’t feel that I have done influencing lives. 20 years don’t feel too long. I still have a dream of what a school should be and the magic that would happen there. A place where teachers come to work, happy, energetic and looking forward to teach! A school that uses every resource, advantage, gift, and opportunity it has to nurture students who asks great questions. One that makes certain that every single student and family feels welcome and understood on equal terms.
I am still nurturing that dream. The most scintillating yet terrifying feature of the future is its unpredictability and the mysteries it holds for us.
So I am advancing with all plans in place to live a life of authenticity and satisfaction which is in alignment with everything that I hold true and valuable.