A New Chase

Why am I resurrecting a blog I only made because it was assigned to me in my Career Writing class last semester? Well, a lot has happened between then and now. Being graduated a semester early (why yes, I am the using the passive voice; I was the object of that action and most certainly not the subject) kicked off a rough liminal period that left me with a lot of uncomfortable free time to think about who I’d become now that college was finished with me.

So, the big question: Liz, why aren’t you teaching?! Didn’t you go to school to learn how to do that? Yes, I absolutely did. However, I learned how to do a lot of other things along the way. I (re)founded one magazine and worked on another with a far more prestigious pedigree. I got into research and translation theory, fell back in love with the Portuguese language, and flirted hard (we’re talking third base at the very least) with the idea with the idea of going to Portugal to become Dr. Barcelos. I found quidditch and got deep into the organizational aspects of it. That’s not even taking into account the things I did for my major. I wrote. A lot. Research papers and blog posts and poems and literary analysis and creative nonfiction and short stories and articles. I didn’t just possess a piece of paper with the ink still drying on it; I had options.

I got myself back into school as a credential candidate, but it was more out of sheer stubbornness than anything else. I wasn’t going to let San Jose State dump me; I wanted to set the terms of our parting. I started learning about what it took to be a high school English teacher while I was teaching Portuguese classes of my own at POSSO. I started seeing the toll the profession takes on young teachers like my brother, Steve. His passion for teaching and his calling to work with high school kids is unquestionable; however, so is the toll his job takes on him. He’s tired, he’s stressed, it’s expected that he go above and beyond every day even if his compensation doesn’t reflect that.

I respect the profession as much as I ever did. I think that’s why I took a step back. I’d be in my Methods of Teaching English class wishing I was anywhere else. I was more worried about planning tournaments (my underemployment this spring has a lot to do with the uptick in NorCal quidditch tournaments) and growing the sport than I was about writing lesson plans. I wanted to keep writing, not necessarily teach others how to do it. Teaching is a vocation and I realized that I might not have the calling. Considering that I’d spent the past few years pursuing that vocation, it was a terrifying thought.

So, to escape my fear, I started a new chase. I applied for editorial jobs, anything that needed a Portuguese speaker, event planning positions, and above all else, anything that would let me make a career out of writing. I sent out countless applications/resumes/cover letters, interviewed at a few places that you may have heard of (including “the world’s biggest search engine”), and eventually I even got to choose between offers.

This time last year I was secretly resentful of all my friends that were graduating. I would have never predicted the year that was coming up for me: that I’d meet someone, that I’d graduate sooner than expected, that I’d organize a quidditch conference and work for the league, and that I’d be doing content writing for a startup that I never knew existed until I started this new chase. Atlantis might be impossible to find, but I don’t think happiness and success should be. This is something I can be happy doing. Maybe next fall I’ll find the time to go back to teaching Portuguese. Teaching will always be something I love, even if I don’t make a career out of it.

I used to think that Liz Barcelos was not a quitter. I’m not sure if that’s the case anymore, but if it means that I’ve gotten better at deciding what I want, then I’m okay with a little quitting.

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