Last week I got some news. One of my English Language Learner students, a newcomer with whom I’d spent several hours a day, was returning to her home country.
How thrilling for her! She is Puerto Rican and came to New Hampshire after Hurricane Maria. As much as she likes our school and learning English, she left most of her family there, including her dad, her dog, and her cat. And she misses the warmth! She misses going to the beach every day. Now she gets to go home. She is so happy.
As excited as I am for her, I’m bummed for myself. Because I worked with her so much each day, I’ll now have a lot less to do each day. And my income will drop significantly. I enjoyed teaching her, and all of the hours I worked with her provided a significant bump in my paycheck. This is a downside of being a contractual ESL Teacher, though. I can’t choose how many students I work with–it’s entirely dependent upon who moves into the district.
I’m not going to lie–I’d already planned what to do with the extra money I’d be earning from January to June. And I had just gotten used to the very full days that left me wheeling, but also provided a sense of satisfaction and purpose. It’s hard when life throws you a curveball.
How to Deal
What did I do when I heard the news? First, I rejoiced for my student. I’m genuinely glad for her, and so grateful for the opportunity to work with her. I have her crazy Puerto Rican music on my Spotify account, and I know it’ll bring a smile to my face every time I listen to “Voy Buscando Una Lady.”
Second, I gave myself permission to feel disappointed. I talked with Mr. ThreeYear, shared my feelings, and sipped some tea. I felt bummed for a day or two, then I felt better. But if I hadn’t allowed myself to feel my feelings, I think I would have eventually felt worse.
When we’re dealing with bad news, especially bad news that’s more of a disappointment, such as the boss giving a new project to someone else to manage, it’s human tendency to show how strong, how unaffected we are. People watch us to see how we’ll react and know what to do. I always want to present a “totally together” front to the world, to show that it’s no big deal, and I’m taking it in stride. But this time, I was honest when people asked me. “I’m so excited for her, but bummed for me.” This way, I didn’t have to try and mask that disappointment or swallow it down. I could just share it. And I think that way, I was able to absorb the news and feel better quicker.
Third, I accepted the kick in the pants the universe was throwing my way. I think this schedule change is the kick-in-the-pants I needed to get started with one of my scarier 2018 goals. There it is, below, under #2.
I’ll now have about three extra hours per afternoon. I know myself. My tendency will be to fritter that time away, looking for lessons or plans for my students, or reading education blogs, or checking my net worth for the hundredth time (does anybody else do that?). But this time, instead of frittering that time away, I’m going to treat it like a second (okay, a third) job.
The downside of being an ESL Teacher, as I just mentioned, is little control over how many hours I work. That is the precise upside of Goal #2, “Develop 2 Online Businesses.” It’s time to work on developing an income stream that I can control, that is dependent upon the amount of hustle and effort I put in. And since I’ll have almost three extra hours per day, Monday through Friday, this is the perfect time to start.
What Will I Do?
There are as many online business opportunities as there are ideas in our heads, so what exactly will I do? Luckily, I already know. I’m going to develop my freelance business. I love to write, and I love to research, so now I have to learn how to pitch and get business.
I’m reaching out to successful freelancers and taking any and all advice they throw my way. I’m developing my portfolio. I’m writing guest posts. I’m even soliciting work.
I’m prepared for lots of rejection. I hate rejection, and I tend to smart from it and let it paralyze me, so that’s why I’m telling myself I’m going to have to send out a lot of emails and hear a lot of “no”s before I start to get work.
I’m also prepared to earn a very low rate in the beginning. But I’m okay with that. I’m learning, so I’ll be prepared for apprentice wages for a bit. I’m in the oh-so-fortunate position of not needing immediate cash to pay the bills and I’m thrilled to earn while I learn.
The Blessing of the Kick in the Pants
Life doesn’t always go our way. Okay, it doesn’t often go our way. We have our best-laid plans, then life smashes them for us. My goal, through this small bit of change in my life, is to see this change as the opportunity it is. What is my big goal? Location independence. What’s more likely to help me get there, a job where I have to be tied down to one place, or an online business I can take anywhere? Well, duh.
My excuse of “I’m just too busy” doesn’t work anymore. I have no other choice but to try and make this work. Luckily, I’ve already written down what I want, so now I just have to figure out how to get there.
So I’m off to get hustlin’.
If you’ve ever freelanced and have any tips for me, I’d really appreciate your advice!