These were my thoughts as I walked from my classroom to the gates of the school, a solid three minutes’ journey.

13 02 2008

In a fleeting moment as I was leaving school, I found in my stomach, a dreadful thought. I say “in my stomach,” because when I’m feeling something, anything, often before I know I’m feeling it, my stomach tells me. This usually comes in the form of a tightening of my abdomen that, once released, tells me that it was just tightened and therefore triggers the thought, “Oh, I must be thinking something. And that thought must be causing stress.” Then begins the long search and deep thinking to find the source of that stress.

This didn’t take long today as the source was quite clear. I’d just read an e-mail from a potential employer. A potential employer in Europe. For the past few days we’d had a nice e-mail exchange and I had been feeling uncharacteristically calm during the course of it. It follows then, that today when I opened up another e-mail from this administrator, I expected to feel excited and positive, to continue on my calm, smooth drifting toward next year’s gainful employment. However, in the message, this administrator implied that after this week’s job fair in Cambridge, MA, the job I was up for might not even be available anymore because it might have been filled by an applicant in Cambridge.

“Of course,” I thought, and clicked off the page. “I know there’s a job fair going on right now. I’ve been scrutinizing the position vacancy website for days in a row, watching the number of vacant positions decrease slowly. Of course. I know that already.” And then, walking out of school, my stomach clenched and released and let me know to pay attention to a thought that was hidden somewhere and after a second of digging around in the lumps and folds of my brain, I came up with this:  Holy Smokes. What if I don’t get a job next year?

I didn’t really think “holy smokes”; it was actually more profane than that, but “holy smokes” is pretty fun to say on its own, so, “holy smokes” it is. And the thought was really more complex than “no job next year,” because I already have an offer for a job next year in the States. The thought was more along the lines of, “Wow, I’m surprised I care this much about the Cambridge job fair because I think I will actually be really upset if I don’t get an offer for a job for next year because I think I actually really want to go overseas next year. Like, more than I thought I did. Way more.”

A brief panic set in, mostly because I hadn’t accounted for the fact that I hadn’t thought I wanted to go overseas so badly, to Europe, and what if all the jobs in Europe get filled this week in Cambridge?  The panic compounded when I wondered what next year would look like if I had to come back to the States not by choice but by default because there were just no jobs left at my job fair in New York. And then I wondered, well, what if there were jobs left at my job fair in New York but I received no offers?

At this, my stomach cramped up even more and even more forcefully because I knew exactly why it was cramping: shame. I’d be coming back to the States because no schools felt I would be good enough for them.

As I approached the gates of the school, I’d hung my head. I no longer felt calm and instead felt unprepared and inferior compared to those nameless candidates for European teaching jobs that are most certainly, as we speak, lined up by the hundreds to grab up all the English/Language Arts jobs at the middle school level in every country in Europe. In the taxi home, I half-heartedly made a list of the things I need to pack and the things I need to do before leaving the day after tomorrow, and looked vacantly out the window at the cobble streets and men working. Somewhere nearby workers were cutting grass and that sweet smell blew in through the windows and helped unclench my tight stomach a fraction of a clench.

By the time I was home in my apartment, I had managed to calm myself. And then, talking to Dennis, he told me this: “Hey, here’s an idea: why don’t you just wait and see how it turns out rather than drawing negative conclusions now? Just a thought.”  And you gotta give it to him because that’s all I can do, short of flying to Cambridge right now, tearing down the doors and cutting to the front of any line to shove my resume in administrators’ faces to prove that they’ll be really happy if they hire me.

But I don’t think all that tearing and cutting and shoving would make me look very nice. So I’ll take Dennis’ advice and chill until I’m in a place where I can actually do something.

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6 responses

13 02 2008
Rachel L

As one of those people that can’t help but have “what if” thoughts all of the time, I know how hard it is to just sit back and wait for something to happen and postpone the thinking/worrying. Here’s what I do: map out thoughts (this usually is in the form of a list, or a letter) for the brain, and drink chamomile tea for the stomach. 🙂
P.S. Safe travels back to the States!

13 02 2008
Sofy

I think tearing and cutting and shoving is a reasonable idea. It would show them how much you want this job, and how you’re willing to fight for it 😛 .

But you can get a job in another country that isn’t the States. Besides, you don’t even know for sure if you’re getting the job in Europe or not.
And there are other options anyway, right? You’re going to the job fair on Friday, and I’m sure that you’ll get an offer from another overseas school. I mean, who wouldn’t want you? You’re an amazing teacher, one of the best I’ve ever had, and you have a great personality. It’s like impossible not to like you. And I’m not just saying that either.
(Aw. I’m so sweet. And cheesy…but sweet.)

I agree with Dennis, definitely. See how everything ends up instead of assuming it won’t turn out well. ‘Cause you know what people say about assuming…

– Sofy

13 02 2008
luana spider

Sofy, your totally right.

Ms.C your a great teacher and you are going to get a million and one offers for jobs. And, anyway there is nothing you can do now so chill out and do what you do best, Teach.

And just so you know I read until page 33 on Romeo and Juliet and I uderstood, and if that dosent show how good teacher you are ask anyone=)
Your the Best so dont worry!!!!!!!

13 02 2008
ginacoggio

Oh, I am so lucky to have all of you—as friends or as students. Thank you.
And yes, Sofy, you are very sweet. Not even cheesy.
(Seriously, Luana? Page 33? Congratulations!!!)
Chamomile tea is a big life saver (stomach saver, actually) you’re right. Have you heard of Bach Flower Remedies? I have 3 different kinds and in times like these, I definitely rely on stuff like that.

14 02 2008
Susan

I think you are just stressed and stretched out all the way around with everything that’s happening in life right now so any situation is going to clench your tummy. Drink a Starbucks, read a good book on the plane, take some Pm’s….and smile about being back in the states for a brief moment during the winter time. Or hey its valentines day…eat some chocolate. =)
Gawd… I hate to admit when a man is right about anything but in this case *high fives* to Dennis!

10 06 2008
ladybughugs

Hold on to that man you’ve got there. He’s smart. And knows what to say and when to say it. You can’t go ‘what if-ing’ and second-guessing your way through life. Take it as it comes and God will put you where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.

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