Monday Notes: A Confession on My 25th Year of Teaching

Twenty-five years ago, I began my career in education as an English teacher. However, I didn’t enter the profession out of a profound sense of passion. Here’s what happened:

I began undergrad as a business major: business management, to be exact. However, there was an assessment everyone took to test out of remedial math (Math 109). I took and failed the test during orientation. Then, I took it again and failed at the beginning of Math 109. The university offered it again mid-semester. Failed. And again shortly after, which is when I passed.

That’s when I figured I needed to change my focus. How was I going to be a business major if I couldn’t do basic math?

I sought advice from one of my aunts, who suggested I become an English major. When I talked to the advisor, she said English education was a better option.

Fast forward twenty-five years, a masters, and doctorate degree later, and I’m still teaching.

I’ve thought about if this one choice was a “mistake.” I mean, clearly, I have a passion for reading and writing, but did I need to become an educator? Maybe I could’ve been an investigative journalist, as my blogging buddy Dr. D. recently observed. Or perhaps I could’ve just begun a writing career twenty years earlier.

I don’t know. Falling into an abyss of what ifs is not good. I do not recommend it.

Here’s what I’ve decided.

There are no mistakes. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we’re always making choices. But our choices are tied to who we are, our level of awareness at the time, and our self-imposed limitations.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we’re always making choices.

At the time, I didn’t have a home to return to in Chicago, and I damn sure wasn’t going back to live with my grandparents. I just wanted to do whatever would afford me a salary and a ticket toward independence. An education degree did that.

However, I also didn’t know any writers. I’d only seen so-called safe and secure jobs: pharmacy technician, accountant, social worker. I couldn’t conceive of a career in writing, much less pursue a degree that may lead to one. My choices seemed limited.

I know what you may be thinking…why get more advanced degrees in the field? My answer is the same: lack of awareness and self-imposed limitations.

I had no idea I could’ve easily switched to an MFA or even a PhD in English, so I continued the same path I’d begun in 1991: Education.

So, here I am.

I don’t have regrets, though. No. That’s not what this is about. I’m writing this to encourage anyone out there who believes he, she, or they only have one path. Not to sound cliché, but there are infinite paths for living life. Infinite. Think about what you want to do. Research your options. Talk to people who are doing what you think you want to do. Then, make up your own way based on your informed decision.

If what you want to do isn’t reflected in your family or environment, then don’t be afraid to create a life based on what you want. Guess what? That’s what I’ve done over the past seven years.

Today, I own a successful business, with no business degree. I’m a successful writer, without having an English degree.

I’m convinced each of us can do what we want. All we have to do is first believe it is possible.


80 thoughts on “Monday Notes: A Confession on My 25th Year of Teaching

  1. I liked your story. While I do agree it helps if a person chats with someone in an occupational area that might interest them, sometimes, gut feel also should guide the person. I mean a gut feel that’s been hanging around for years, not just a whim. The problem these days is the stronger emphasis/prestige of STEM disciplines vs. humanities/arts. A good friend did her PhD in English Lit….while it gives her a part-time teaching job, her course is part of religious studies faculty. Her hubby did same degree ..he has no interest in academia.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree about gut feelings, Jean. The only caveat is being sure you can trust your gut feeling…I’m not sure a lot of us have been shown or realize how.

      Those PhDs in English can be tricky, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful, empowering post! I believe we are all Renaissance souls and were given a number of talents. Who is to say we should have to stay with only one and rule out the rest? This, coming from one who also taught for 25 years, then switched course..maybe more than once 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing!.. a person of courage, you are no doubt a role model for many, if not all… to begin with “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” (Roy T. Bennett) and once that is done “The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.” ( Joel Brown)… 🙂

    As Jean de La Bruyere said;
    “No road is too long for him who advances slowly and does not hurry, and no attainment is beyond his reach who equips himself with patience to achieve it.”.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Blogger this week is K.E. Garland. K.E., Kathy to her blogging friends, is a long-time educator and published author. She self-describes as “a creative nonfiction writer whose primary goal is to amplify women’s voices and to demarginalize and personalize societal issues regarding women.” Kathy does that beautifully, and much more. Read on and you’ll see.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. P.S. Don’t be surprised if the blogger “numrhood” asks you an odd question or two on the Comments page at my blog site. He (Rudy) is autistic and has a very different perspective on things (he’s really into numbers, btw).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 25 years!!! That’s a lot of years…I take off my hat to you. And you are so right about everything you said here, especially the infinite paths for living life. I’m still figuring what I want to be when I grow up. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Congrats on 25 years of teaching! Thanks for sharing your journey. So agree that “there are infinite paths for living life” and it’s ok to go down different paths until we find what works best for us.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “There are no mistakes” So much to love about this post, including the shout out! 🥰 WE SHARE A PHILOSOPHY of failures as signposts pointing us in a direction. Combined with self-reliance, ownership, and faith in divine synchronicities.. “There are no mistakes.” This too I believe ♥️

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Congrats on Year 25! My path–started out with double-major in English and Communications. Was heading into print media (journalism), but an A on a research paper in an English history course with the hardest professor in the world steered me toward the doctorate in English. I did the research and wrote the entire paper in one night. The prof called me into his office and said, “You should go to graduate school.” The reality–I was heading in this direction all my life. I was born with a book, a journal, and pen in my hand. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh hell yeah! Many choices. No regrets. Congratulations on 25 years of teaching! Your writing touches and uncovers emotion, so I can only imagine the fierce force of your teaching, and the lives influenced as a result.
    I am 61 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. A bachelor’s degree in fashion…master’s in journalism…master’s in education (only because my son was diagnosed with dyslexia and I was pissed at how teachers treated Black boys with a “reading disability”).
    Can I get a bachelor’s in bourbon, please?
    Kudos to you for also teaching and inspiring those of us you’ve never even met. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you ❤

      I love that you don't know what you wanna be when you grow up! I think that's part of the issue. We're sometimes pressured into figuring it out…when there's nothing to figure out!

      Thank you for those kind words at the end, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, there are no simple answers to this because until we have made a choice (which by the way we can only do one at a time) and discover our individual limitations, we don’t know if it was right or wrong. By that time we might have already run out of steam and enthusiasm to try out again what we really want to do with our lives.
    The depressing environment of the public service or the corporate world is the best example. Environments, riddled with anxiety, and mostly chosen by those who prefer security instead of individual freedom. The freedom to choose comes at a price most of us are not willing to pay. As all mortgage holders can testify to.
    Maybe it is a good thing, a society completely made up of creative, freedom-seeking individuals would have soon starved to death.
    I, a dropout from the corporate world at an early age before the flames of enthusiasm had been extinguished, followed Alan Watts’s advice and chose freedom instead of security without ever regretting it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is what I’m talking about. I think we are taught to choose security over freedom or passion or almost anything else that may actually make us happy. The other routes are oftentimes presented as some range of suffering (e.g., the starving artist, etc.).

      Thank you for sharing this perspective.


  11. Your post resonates and inspires. I relate to having no regrets, and also know that I would choose so differently if I had better guidance and support. And still where I am, I feel gratitude for how I found my way to believing in Infinite Living, still very young in my explorations of what I could become henceforth, with so many new ways and work wide open for me to engage in. So yes I agree with you on how we have infinite possibilities and choices available to us.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this. I never understood why people continued suggesting that I obtain a degree in English. My first love was art/architecture, but math got to me as well. Then by age 20 in nursing school and on people would keep asking, but no one ever explained what I could do w/ a degree in English. When it came up again, noticing it wouldn’t go way, lol I decided to look into it. Best decision I ever made.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome ❤ I mean…there are a few options under that umbrella, but overall, it does seem like a degree of struggle once you attain it, and at the time, I needed something sure and steady.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. True, we keep making decisions conciously or unconsciously all out life. There is no life without decision making. It us also true that most of us make decisions without proper research . Informed decision making is what us required but then circumstances dictate otherwise at times.
    Beautiful article.
    Stay blessed always

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Love this post, Katherin – It hold so many interesting details about your life. I also don’t like looking back with regrets and my lyric line I follow is: “Everything that I have gone through, led me to this place.”
    I always imagined I would be an artist and I did love music as a teenager. But here I am at 61, devoting myself to my musical passion. It’s the perfect time and I’m grateful!
    Plus “where we end up” is never set in stone – I see myself as continuing to evolve. There’s no deadline!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Judy ❤ I think that's the key, right…continuing to see yourself as evolving? Once we take on that perspective, then everything is fine 😉

      Also, Lesley commented back to you, but not under this comment. I think it's above ^^^

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t believe in regrets. They are more like building blocks of who we are, or who we become. I agree with you on there are many roads to choose. But there are times I feel where the road choose you.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Riiight. Plus, regrets don’t get you far anyway. And I do agree with the road choosing you. There are so many choices I can’t explain in my life, and this seems to be the only thing that makes sense.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I believe you are right. There are no mistakes. And the Universe is very wise. You are indeed a writer!
    During college I wanted to be an actress. I started out majoring in art and Drama. I minored in Literature and education. It was the late 60’s and the world was changing. My friends were fighting and dying in Viet Nam. I was protesting here and trying to fight for equality. I wanted to create change . And life unfolded around me. I got my education degree as a back up never realizing it would become my main career. And yet. .. Just a few years down the road I was a divorced mom who needed that degree more than a starring role on Broadway. I was meant to teach. I was really good at it. I got my standing ovations from students, parents and administrators. So evidently the Universe knew.
    I have also always been a writer even As a child. It’s just apart of who I am. I think we reveal who we are as life unfolds. You are many things. And most certainly a writer! But you are also most definitely an educator too. I think we should all just major or minor in whatever we fancy. Because at various stages in life we never know what will serve us well. So the more we know the richer our lives will be.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this story Lesley ❤ I knew we had similar professional backgrounds, but this is more similar than I knew.

      I agree we should just major in whatever we want and trust the process ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we are very much alike. Just another reason I so enjoy your writing. 😉Trusting the process is certainly the way to go. Such a wonderful phrase. I think when I was younger I may have been too impatient to trust it. But then again, I always pushed the limit so even if I didn’t always trust the process I felt compelled to follow my own path.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Your story has flavor and I am going to try and humor you this morning (Smiles)!
    So in your story to you, math is myth, and English is what they say math is (an exact science)=what you have done here is give students of higher learning profound educational advice (Major in what you are good better-best at *&* Minor nowhere)!

    Liked by 4 people

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