This is the first Saturday I haven’t had to work in a very long while, and I’m up and going at 6:45am. Somehow, when I was 9, dreaming about what my life would be like when I “grew up” I never figured it would be starting a blog before 7 a.m. on a Saturday. In fact, I never really had any idea of what it was I would be doing, other than “It’ll be cool.”
When I was a kid I had dreams about being a paleontologist. I obsessively watched PBS documentaries on the topic and thought spending my life in the American southwest with a tiny hammer and magnifying glass (for the delicate work) and dynamite and sledgehammer (for the not so delicate work) was the ultimate achievement.
A few years later I had read a book or two on geology and realized it wasn’t really my cup of tea, despite the fact the term “cleavage” was used with wild abandon. And so, with a little sadness, I realized I would not be discovering any fossilized remains and moved onto the next dream. I wanted to be a wildlife biologist. The reasoning being it was basically a paleontologist without all of the geology (this is an impressively wrong statement on a few levels).
I began again with my obsession, and happily took in everything I could about mating habits, eating patterns, and the Lotka-Volterra Index. Fast forward a few years, and I’m in college. I want to be a biologist. I’m really set on it, actually. It’s great. I get my major sorted by October and it never changes until I graduate. Once I pick something, I tend to stick with it, it’s a trait that has plagued me my whole life.
Despite the fact I’m going to be a biologist, even though I’m not exactly sure what that really means. I discover I really like other topics as well. And so, instead of changing my major, I just start adding to it. By the time I graduate, I have two majors, biology and education. And I also have two minors, chemistry and writing. On top of that, I ran a martial arts wellness program for the college and was also beginning to compete internationally in martial arts (which is a whole ‘nother story).
Not how I thought college would go.
Right out of college my first job has nothing to do with anything I majored in. It’s in mental health. It’s an exhausting, rewarding, horrifying, and insane job. I worked there for a few weeks before I started picking up extra shifts. Before long I was working 12 and 16 hour days and it only went up from there.
I worked there for a year and a half, often pulling a 24-hour shift every few weeks. Finally, after working a 40-hour shift, I realized I might want other things out of life, and that burnout is a very real thing. When kids threaten to kill themselves, and you just get annoyed about the paperwork you now have to do, it might be time to re-examine what’s going on in your little world.
I move on and get into the world of education, something I almost went to college for. I end up getting a gig as a special education teacher at one of the high schools in my college town. It’s fun, it’s easy, but I still see cops more than I really want to and end up talking to a lot of really angry kids, breaking up some fights, and struggling to find out what it is I really want out of life.
Around this time the relationship I had been in for the last few years was disintegrating far faster than I cared to rebuild it, and it ended in a cataclysmic fashion. It left me a bit poorer, a lot more bitter, but much more at peace with myself and my life. After a summer of planting trees, I realized it was once again time to move on.
While volunteering at a golf outing for a fundraiser, I get a phone call from a placement agency I had shot an email with a resume to a week or so previous. There is an education opening, and it’s starting in a few weeks.
There was only one issue. The placement was in Milwaukee. I get a job in Milwaukee. I teach in a middle school, I tell myself it’ll be better than both mental health and special education. I’ll be actually teaching and working with kids on SCIENCE! It’s not being a biologist, but it’s closer than I’ve been in years.
It’s an absolute crazy job. I work there for two months and lose 20 pounds. I break up fights almost on the daily and struggle to teach in the midst of all of my classroom control issues.
I’m let go on Halloween.
Three days later I start a job with a guy I knew in town. Throughout all of the other stories, new starts, and dramatic, burning endings, the one constant has been martial arts. It’s a hobby that has been my everlasting passion since I was 9. This guy I know runs a karate school, and he’s looking to maybe move on and needs someone to step in. So, I step in.
That was a year and a half ago.
I’m still stepping.
In the middle of all of this, I start going to grad school for writing, because, let’s be serious, the thing I enjoyed most about college was my minor in writing. And, eventually, it all leads here. Every decision, heartbreak, life change, major move, and complete failure leads to this moment, at 6:45 in the morning on the first Saturday off I’ve had in quite a while, typing on a laptop and contemplating the course of my life.
I gotta say, I’m kind of enjoying it so far.
Cheers to a new start, again.