Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In My Mind

I was going to keep this private (for no good reason), but decided to post it anyway.

I'm starting my Master's degree in English (with a concentration in the teaching of writing) tomorrow; I'm starting the semester not having a full-time job (I've tried to get a job teaching English in New York City, but have had no offers); I received an offer of a Teaching Assistantship that would pay for two of the three classes for which I've registered this semester and that would pay me a stipend of $1,500 for the semester, in exchange for which I would work 10 hours a week at the LIU Writing Center. Having had three years' experience at the Stony Brook University Writing Center, this is manageable.

I'm excited to be getting back to school. My brain has been in sludge mode since last May and I need to be getting back to some good strenuous mental activity.

Mentally this was not a good summer, and I'm glad it's over. I've spent a lot of time being introspective and have begun to be less willing to put up with well-meaning but unwelcome interference that allows for others to offer opinions about how I should be living my life. I grew up being a very shy, insecure person, more likely to take advice I was unsure about or disagreed with because I was too unsure of my own mind, or of hurting the feelings of the person who was trying to help. I didn't trust my own thoughts so I disregarded my own opinions, even if they were at odds with the opinions of others.

I heard from a few friends in the past couple of weeks that they think it unwise to teach full time while attending grad school; or at least, I should not be a first-year teacher and have registered for three graduate-level courses. From my perspective, though, there is little room for an in-between. I need a job. Teaching is not generally a career in which one finds a part-time position. There is substitute teaching (which is my preference but which doesn't start until mid-October); there are also occasionally teaching positions in which one works less than full-time, perhaps teaching three classes, for example. While this is preferable (I would like a flexible schedule that would offer a decent salary but would also allow me to focus on classes), I would prefer being a full-time teacher than my current position of unemployment.

To supplement the stipend that I will most likely not see until the end of the semester, I was offered and accepted a tutoring job through a company in Manhattan. Such tutoring guarantees me as much work as I'm willing to accept, which, given my schedule of evening classes, will likely be limited, since such tutoring would be scheduled around the students' after-school hours - similar hours that at least twice a week will have me in my own classes.

I realized this summer that the crux of my mindset is that I want simply to be left alone. I don't want unsolicited opinions. I don't want people continually asking me what I'm thinking, or what I'm feeling. If I have something to say, I'll say it, in my own time and in a manner in which I am comfortable. I don't want to be asked how the job hunt is going. (Clearly not well, otherwise I would have passed on that piece of news.) It takes me a long time to figure out what I think or feel about an issue, to decide how to act. I rarely seek outside opinions unless I'm unsure about something; only with a very small group of people (which right now is one person) am I likely to even want to share the specifics.

I think I'm finally starting to feel like an adult.

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