You know the old story about boiling a frog? If you put the frog in cold water and very very slowly turn up the heat, the frog is dead before it realizes it’s in danger. That’s how I felt about my teaching career.
Very very slowly things began to add up against me. A new initiative here. A curriculum change there. New admin. A pandemic. Hate from parents over things out of my control. Hate from school leaders when something they forced us to do crashed and burned. It all came together until I realized I was boiling alive.
I know I’m not alone when I say the moment I realized I was boiling came in March of 2020. Sadly, it took a pandemic to open my eyes to just how toxic my situation was. And that wasn’t all that happened.
Spring and Summer 2020 were devastating for me. I lost the first pet I had ever had. Then I had to cancel my wedding, a wedding we had been planning and saving for since 2017. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, my grandpa passed away from colon cancer. His funeral was the weekend my wedding was supposed to be. Lastly, I learned my father had a congenital heart defect that took my risk of severe illness from very low to very high. It was emotional blow after blow after blow.
On top of that, I was being constantly bombarded with communication from my school district on what the plan for September would be. There was no chance to disconnect or to process all of the emotions I was experiencing. I was on call 24/7. I hesitated to even go out of town for a weekend to say goodbye to my grandpa when we knew he was declining.
For a brief time, it felt like there was no way out. Each morning, I wished I wouldn’t wake up. I was completely hopeless and had nowhere to turn. I felt unsupported and like no one cared to listen. I expressed my concerns to administration, but the response I got literally told me to suck it up and appreciate the hard work they were doing to plan for the upcoming year.
I was never offered support, and my input was never asked for, even when I pointed out flaws in their reasoning.
At my lowest moment, I planned my suicide.
And then I immediately sought help and realized, truly, that I needed to abandon my teaching career. I couldn’t stay for my kids anymore. I did not have the emotional capacity to be there for them and take care of myself. More than anything else, the feeling of letting them down was killing me.
Making that decision was terrifying. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I would make anything close to the income that I made as a teacher. I felt like I would need to start over and I would be lucky to be making more than minimum wage. There was no way I could make a salary. I had no skills.
Unfortunately, these are probably thoughts that you’ve had too.
This is what happens when you teach in an abusive district. I was told by admin over and over that I was only hired because there was no one better. That my lessons were only passable. That although I saw the students growing and thriving in my class, test scores showed that I was only teaching them worthless fluff.
When that’s what you hear for eight years, you start to believe it. I was paralyzed by imposter syndrome, and couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around another career. What else was even out there? I had no idea. I had decided to become a teacher in second grade, and none of my schools ever offered career counseling. I had no clue what to search for.
Then I had a lightbulb moment.
My secret wish when I was little was to become a writer. I used to plan stories in my head and then act them out in my bedroom with epic music blasting in the background. So why not become a professional writer? I had written articles and web content years ago when I was looking for a teaching job. Why couldn’t I return to that?
Turns out I could.
I had no idea where to start, but the almighty Internet algorithm kicked in. Suddenly I was seeing ads all over the place for copywriting.
But what the heck is copywriting? Any time I heard the term, I thought “copyright,” you know, the legal thing.
Turns out, writers are needed everywhere. For example, when I was in Spain on a college trip, I noticed the signs in a chocolate shop were in English and Spanish. I wondered who had written the English signs. What kind of job was it to write signs at a store?
Websites are another great example. Every website has words. Where do those words come from? A copywriter!
Newsletters? Flyers? Just about any written word you see anywhere outside of a book? Pretty much all copywriting. There are some finer nuances, but you get the general idea.
My mind was blown. Here I had gone my whole life thinking that the only way I could be a writer was to publish a bestselling novel and it turns out that writing is not only all around me but in seriously high demand.
With my eyes finally opened to the possibilities, I set out on my copywriting journey. I now run my own copywriting business for people who crave creativity and authenticity in their lives. My goal is to serve the makers of the world and to help them get their story out there.
I write blogs, website content, email newsletters, product descriptions, and more to help small creative businesses reach more clients. I save them time and help them grow so they can experience more joy in their lives.
Everyone has a story, and my passion is sharing your story with the world. Hopefully it doesn’t have as many dark and hopeless places as mine. My goal in sharing my story is to help other people see that there is light in the darkness. Things are not totally hopeless. If you are stuck in a toxic environment, there are ways to get out. Reach out to me at https://www.nikkiolsoncopywriting.com to learn more or to just chat. I would love to support you.
For teachers especially, there is life after teaching. We have so many transferable skills it’s unbelievable. Becoming an entrepreneur and running my copywriting business gives me the freedom and the work-life balance I have been craving. I have time to pursue my own interests, and you can too.
My life opened up, and I am happier than ever working as a freelance copywriter. There absolutely is life after teaching, and I am proof.
Looking for more inspiration and guidance to leave your teaching job? Check out Ann’s story at https://gofreedomchasers.com/teacher-to-entrepreneur