Friday, April 18, 2008

Loving Your Profession

My day job is as a teacher. I enjoy my job. I work with teens and am still young enough to relate to them (I'm only a decade older than they are; many of them have brothers/sisters around my age). Anyway, I like English and I enjoy my job. I basically spend all day talking about literature and writing and helping others find the joy in it that I do.

But here's the thing. I enjoy my job...but I don't love it. Not the way I love writing.

I realized this because I am having to work closely with a new teacher, helping her to get the hang of things. Within five minutes of my meeting with her, in the middle of me suggesting lesson plan ideas for African literature, she burst out crying.

Me, I don't handle tears well.

But I realized, to her, she's in a job she loves. It's not working out for her, and that's driving her crazy. She can't stand the fact that she's not inspiring the kids and they don't listen to her and that they (honestly) think of her as a bit of a joke. She's miserable...not just because she's working with kids who are making her miserable, but because the job she loves, the job she wants, the profession she wishes to be a part's not working for her.

Teaching isn't that way for me. I enjoy it, but I could quit tomorrow and have few regrets. I've never cried over the job.

But I've cried over writing.

That's the difference between a profession you can do and a profession you long for. I'm a better teacher than this girl is--I maintain my professionalism and I'm excellent at what I do. I'm better because I don't care about it as much as she does. But that's the same thing that makes me a worse writer. Because I long for a profession at writing, because that is what I care about more than anything else...I'm not as good at it. I'm too emotionally attached sometimes. I have to work harder because I care more.

But if that just means that I work harder, and more, and with more care on the thing I love to do most...then it's worth it.

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