Looking back, I realise I depended on my ‘school teacher’ identity for my sense of self-worth. Like many of us, I held onto it far beyond the point where enough was enough. Even when I knew it was making me and those I loved so unhappy, I just couldn’t walk away.
Until I did.
In 2013, I said goodbye to the dark cloud that hung over every special moment. There were tears, there was a great deal of sadness. I felt guilty for leaving pupils I cared so much for – and a school I had grown to love.
But the sense of relief was undeniable; I didn’t have to walk the tight rope any more, terrified, knowing that at some point soon all the plates would come crashing down.
I had just accepted my mind would be constantly on the job. I thought I could live with the scrutiny, my stomach churning at the constant threat of failure, the weekends spent marking.
Those burdens had become toxic friends; I didn’t realise the power they had over me until they were no more. That sick feeling in my stomach that would envelop me every Sunday morning, when I had to choose between living or suffocating under a pile of marking, is now a distant memory.
Because I chose quality of life. My marriage. My children.
I have no regrets about my 10 year classroom career; it taught me so much. But it was time to cut the chains. Life with 3 kids and a business is still a challenge. But today, the anticipation of possibility and adventure hang in the air; I feel grateful, optimistic, peaceful.
I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a friend. I am a coach. I am a businesswoman.
And, over the last 7 years, I have realised that leaving the classroom was far from a failure. I don’t need the job title to define me. I am still, and I always will be a teacher.