Three days into the new year, I woke up to a text from an old friend of mine, Stewie Goode. He said he’d e-mailed an ex-classmate of his, who was now a head hunter, about me. He asked her what my chances of getting a job as a law clerk or legal secretary would be with zero law experience or education in the field. He’d previously suggested the idea of working for his old law firm because it was next door to the school I currently worked at, but alas, there had been no positions. I hadn’t been overly upset by it.

“Would you be willing to go back to school?” Was the last part of his message.

Nope. No way. Of course not. But I couldn’t tell him that. One of us was clearly invested in the outcome of my life here, and I certainly couldn’t reveal that it wasn’t me.

“Depends on how long the program is and how much it costs,” I fibbed.

The whole conversation had taken me by complete surprise. Sure, I complained about my current job and lack of hours a lot. And sure, I talked about applying to new places. And once more, surely, I’d made jokes about my crippling fear that I wouldn’t be able to afford my rent. But you know, I never really had any intentions to do anything about it. I’m just a wallower.

He told me he’d looked up a few courses. There were all sorts of part-time options. Online courses. Evenings and weekends. One to two years of more education to change my life forever. To appease him, I googled the courses he suggested.

Seeing the programs suddenly opened up my eyes. This really was possible. I wasn’t stuck at my deadend job forever. What’s a year or two? I could have a whole new career before I knew it. And isn’t that what I’d been wanting for the past few years?

Yes and no. I loved my job. I just felt like my position in the ESL field was stagnating. Without going into management, I’d pretty much peaked at the private school I worked at. I taught in the highest department at the highest level. I’d taken the field head on, and I had done a great job in the past five years.

Only, my paychecks didn’t reflect that. Nor did my hours. Or even the respect I got from management. Over the past five years with the company, something had slipped. I had gotten the reputation of almost being too kind and friendly. Too polite. Too hard working. Too flexible. So I tended to get the shit end of the stick a lot these days. It was almost getting worse, instead of better.

That’s not the way my career was supposed to go. I missed the days when I would drive home, astonished that they were actually paying me to do something I loved. To meet fascinating people and teach them my language. Now it was all drama and hassle. I was drowning.

For the first time in my life, that morning, I actually allowed my brain to toy with the idea of going back to school. I never really liked school when I was in it. I was bad at it. I never really understood studying and learning back then. Maybe I was too young. Now that I was a teacher, I actually got it. I understood it on a level I never knew possible. Now I wanted to learn. But going back seemed too hard.

I told Stewie that I’d consider it. He replied, “great! And we’ll be able to talk about law all the time then!”

Which made me shudder. Maybe he was joking. But probably not. I’m not interested in law at all. Never have been, never will be. Stewie’s the law guy. His wife is a lawyer. His brothers are in law. All of his buddies. But not me. That’s not my thing. No matter how lucrative and comfortable the jobs Stewie was promising me, their descriptions just didn’t interest me. I don’t care about Tort law, whatever it may be. I just don’t care.

But I’ll forever be grateful that Stewie thought of me that morning. Because that conversation drastically changed something inside of me. The more I researched about other courses in other fields, the more excited I became. I searched for the jobs I’d really want.

Teaching had always been a passion of mine, but it was kind of the easy route. I had another passion that I had only finally started to explore in the past two years; writing and reading. I knew I would love a job with books and editing and writing and publishing, but I guess I always shied away from it because it seemed too vast. I wouldn’t even know the first step to get my foot in the door. Somehow, I think this blog unwittingly was my first step on some levels.

Finally I stumbled upon Creative Book Publishing, a post-graduate program offered exclusively through Berhum College, the same college where I studied Teaching English for a Second Language five years prior. In this program, students studied the basics of the publishing world. It was perfect. I feel like I was always meant to be a part of this world, I was just lacking the confidence I needed to get me there. I needed more life experience first.

All of a sudden, it was like this monstrous weight that had been shoving me underwater was lifted from my shoulders. A great relief. A new career plan. Four months to launch myself into my dream industry. Freedom.

I’ve been known to make snap decisions on a whim before. Usually they’re made about things like boyfriends or hair colours and are often followed by consequences (e.g. green hair for a month). This time, though, I think it was exactly the right choice.

I attended an info session at Berhum College last week, which solidified my interest in the program. That very night, I applied. Fingers-crossed that I’ll get in!



21 thoughts on “The Return

  1. After 47 years in EFL I can really relate to this piece. About 25 of those years were in the administrative side (planning the courses, hiring the teachers, etc.), and three in the IT department. When I retired fifteen years ago I returned to teaching, which is the part I have always liked best.
    As an undergraduate I worked in the law library, so back then I could have told you what a tort is and where to find the books about it. (I still know it isn’t something to eat.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. After 20 years as a stay-at-home mom, I found it necessary to go back to work. I answered an ad for a legal secretary trainee. Without going back to school, it was the best I could hope for with 5 children to support. I applied for and got the job at an embarrassingly tiny starting salary. Within 6 months, I was a full-on legal secretary and had tripled that initial wage. What helped was the fact I could also write so I wrote many complaints (yes, it was that long ago) and legal briefs. From that initial job I spent over 25 more years in the legal field, as Legal secretary, legal assistant, paralegal working on death penalty cases, etc., etc., etc. I enjoyed the grunt work. I enjoyed research. I enjoyed all of my work in the legal field. When it was over I put my writing skills to the test and had a short but successful career writing articles for magazines and newspapers. Now I basically write poetry which you will find at my blog “Poetry and Other Crimes.” Still, at 87, I still keep in practice working off-site for a law office in town. Your career is most impressive. I chose non-attorney legal. you chose education. It’s all good.

    Liked by 1 person

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