Before reading, take a moment to think of where you are and what you are doing at this very moment. Are you just getting off from work? Are you on vacation and settling down for the day? Or are you reading this blog because you need an escape from the world or need advice about life. Whatever it might be, then ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Whatever we do big or small we do these things for a reason. We can always answer what we doing but find answering the why portion a little trickier. One of the biggest riddles to solve is why do we do the things that we do?
Why is our why so gosh darn important? As a high school history teacher, the conversation of what students will do with their lives comes up fairly often. Usually it involves a student going to college and doing engineering. Other students say they want to go work in the medical field and be a nurse. While others decide to not pursue secondary education and focus on a particular trade. They’re always so sure when they say what they want to do but when I ask them why……that answer tends to be a little slower. Now obviously I can’t assume that they feel 100% comfortable with going into their methodology with me. I am OBVIOUSLY not a 15 year old and as I type this I feel my hairline slowly deteriorating. I feel like we as adults and has educators have a responsibility to help kids out with answer to the vital question.
I feel as though there is slight prejudice against teenagers and an expectation that they are to have it all figured out by the time they leave high school. I’m gonna write some truth down and say that there are many people I know don’t have a slightest idea what they want to do and they have been out of high school for decades. Or there is another group that hate the job that they are working at. Whenever my wife and I go out and eat with other couples, a topic that always comes up are our jobs. Usually at least one person in the group is either (A) they are switching jobs or (B) they are dissatisfied with what they are doing and want to change jobs. Now I’m not going to stand on my soapbox and preach about how I know all nor know act like I know a person’s reasoning. I don’t know their mindset and feel it would be naive to assume so. But perhaps one of the reasons why we sometimes struggle with what we do is because our why isn’t strong enough.
Now what is a why when it comes to decisions? A why is by its name the deep intrinsically motivated reason behind your actions and decisions. Basically it is the thing that motivates you to make a choice. Your why can basically be anything but not all why’s are created equal. Most whys are positive such as becoming a doctor because you have a deep desire to help people. Or the reason why you became a teacher was to be a positive role model for kids and want to help them grow as individuals. I also feel like money although not everything can also be a positive. Maybe you didn’t grow up in the best environment and you want to provide a better life for family by getting a higher paid job.
On the other hand, your why can also blind you and prove to put you in a very tough situation. Going back to the doctor example; are you going into the medical field to help people or are you doing it because you feel like it’s expected of you by society or a parent. Are you becoming a teacher to help kids or is the reality that you hate kids and want weekends and summers off. Ive heard from close friends who make a ton more than I do that the pay is great but they hate their job. That means that their why might not be right and even though their job is feeding their bodies; their why isnt feeding their soul. On occasion, some of my students have told me that they are going into a certain profession because their parent has pressed them to go into that field. I feel at some point in our lives, someone has come along and told us we should do this or don’t do that. Let me ask you this, when that moment happens and you do what they say, are you doing it because you think it’s the right thing to do or is it to make that person happy?
That’s why you not only have to discover your why but figure out how strong your why is. If your why is based off of a whim and not heavily thought about then will you stick with it? Don’t take your why so lightly because when you make a decision then your why will eventually be tested. This past year I switched schools and it was probably the hardest years of my teaching career. A couple times I thought about looking into fields and leaving education. But I would always remember what my why was. My why was that in a world full of bad influences on today’s kids, I wanted to be at least one good influence and not just help them grow as students but also people. Plus I love kids even if I feel like pulling my hair and and feel like I need to be institutionalized at times. I got through those tough patches because my why was strong and I fully believed in it.
In summation, I’m gonna give a message to three groups here to sum up what I’m saying.
1. Kids: Yes…..If you are high school or below you are a KID! Don’t be in a rush to grow up trust me, once you leave high school it flies by. Really think about what you want to do and start with your interests and go from there. I loooooovvveeeeddd history so I looked into fields and found a job where I could vomit out history facts all day. Also if you go to college, YOU DONT NEED TO DECLARE A MAJOR RIGHT AWAY. Do not let colleges or adults pressure you. It’s better to take your time and go with the right major for you the first time than go with a major you don’t really like and change your mind senior year and spend another 2 years in school and spend 30K+ more.
2. Non-teacher adults: Really sit down and take your time to think about what you are doing and think if it what you want to do. If you are miserable and feel dread everyday then is it worth that nice parking spot and good pay? If so then God bless and go forth and prosper! But if it is not worth it then you need to soul search. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying go and quite your job without a safety net. Take care of yourself but then find something that feeds you mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Who knows you might finally end up where you want.
3. Teachers: After all, this is teacher talk and so I must remain loyal to the base! Plus I get to be more blunt and therefore have more fun. I will keep this short, if you are someone who wants to be a teacher or is in teaching and the reason to be a teacher is that you get weekends off and summers off then let me just say that you need to leave the profession. Don’t get me wrong, summers off is freakin sweet and I love not having to wear pants all the time but I see summers off as a perk rather than the reason I teach. Also, if you by nature are not the biggest fan of kids then why are you even there? These kids can’t afford to bad teachers because it only takes a few poor teachers before they are lost. If you feel a deep purpose to help kids and and be the person they need you to be then maybe teaching is for you!
My homework for this post is to reflect on whatever category you fall in above. What is your why and if your why isn’t a positive then what can you do to change that.
Also, comment below with what you do or what you want to do and state what your why was!
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