DEAR AMY: This summer I left an unhappy but reliable job for a transitional teaching program. I’ve always been interested in teaching, but hadn’t pursued it. All summer I was excited and looking forward to being in the classroom. I’ve invested thousands of dollars, my time and my friends’ and family’s support into this pursuit. Three days into it, I want out! I came home after the first day and had a terrible panic attack. I almost had to pull over while driving home! The school and the kids are actually pretty nice (I don’t anticipate discipline problems), and the school is fairly supportive. My anxiety wasn’t because of these external things, but rather because I simply don’t seem to like teaching! My three days haven’t been so terrible, but I have an awful feeling of sadness and disappointment, and the undeniable feeling that I’ve made a big mistake. Generally, I know that you can’t know what you like until you try it, but this seems pretty pathetic of me. Could this feeling be real? A few more days into things, even with better, smoother classes, the feeling has only grown. I feel ashamed, embarrassed and worthless that I am even considering quitting after all of this, not to mention my feeling of obligation to the school and students. Help! I want permission to quit, but I don’t know if I deserve it.
Hello Teaching, Goodbye Teaching
DEAR HELLO, GOODBYE: I give you permission to quit. But . . . not yet. You “deserve” professional satisfaction, and the children you teach definitely deserve to have a dedicated teacher.
Here’s one secret to my own unique career path: I always give myself permission to quit. The thing is, granting myself this permission also helps me settle down, tackle any anxiety, delay any hurried or panicked response, and make a rational choice. So far, I’ve never quit a job. But — for you — quitting might be the most rational choice.
Breaking down overwhelming episodes into manageable components will help you, quite simply, cope with your workdays while making a decision.
You should — very quickly — seek a mentor within your school setting. Be honest with the administration, and ask to be teamed with a seasoned teacher for consultation. You should, at the very least, promise yourself (and your employer) that you will see this through to a natural termination point — the end of the semester, perhaps. You have an obligation to the children you are teaching, and leaving them in the lurch will make things worse for them — and you.
DEAR AMY: I was seeing a wonderful lady, “Mari,” for three years. We broke up for nine months over differences with child-rearing that we have since corrected. During the period we were apart, initially I tried to reconcile, but she told me I should date other people because she was no longer in love with me. I did date other people, but she came back into my life when she caught wind of a girl I was starting to see regularly. I loved my ex, so I took her back. She said she didn’t mean it when she said she didn’t love me anymore and that she came back because she did actually still love me. I don’t trust her now. I’m suspicious about her real reasons for reconciling. I kept all the contacts I made while we were separated, and now my girlfriend is angry. I think I made a mistake in reconciling. What do you think?
DEAR AMBIVALENT: It seems somewhat likely that you and “Mari” are experiencing a sort of faux-reconciliation. This happens when exes re-enter one another’s orbit, drawn by regret, jealousy, mutual attraction — or one too many cocktails.
You two need to decide if you are going to seriously commit or simply dance for a while. Her motives to get back together might be suspect, but your choice to hang onto your previous contacts and basically bring them into this relationship speaks to your own lack of commitment. This is gamesmanship, not commitment, and it calls for a serious conversation.
DEAR AMY: “Reluctant Aunt” was upset to be invited to her nephew’s wedding! My fiancé and I are planning our wedding now, and some of our guests are being pretty demanding. We have been completely unprepared for the rudeness on display.
DEAR EXHAUSTED: Strap in; weddings tend to confirm philosopher Sartre’s axiom: “Hell is other people.”