Every reader of the “Grow Into It with Dr. Paul Blog” knows that living one's passion is a central goal of life, that sacrificing to get there is worth it, and that learning and growing are synonyms. To illustrate these concepts, I share this inspiring New Year post from a reader. Fulfilling his passion of teaching has proven a challenging journey.
I come alive at the front of a classroom. When teaching, I am aware of every student, every detail, every nuance, like a soldier in combat. Seeing the light bulbs come on as students stretch their minds to accommodate new ideas is thrilling to me.
After law school, an early career university teaching position went sour, so I practiced law for 11 years, until my children’s college educations were funded. I could then, finally, afford to ask myself, “What do I want to do in life?” The obvious answer was teach. My best day in a courtroom was not nearly as joyful for me as an average day in a classroom. However, returning to university teaching would have required me to uproot my wife from our home city, so I decided to train for high school teaching.
Relying on my very understanding wife’s income, I closed my law practice, took a part-time job, and devoted hundreds of hours of study to mastering the new knowledge I would need. I was already qualified to teach social studies, but that field was full. I therefore chose science, a new area for me. After some refresher community college courses, I passed a subject-matter qualifying test and took a summer course to earn a teaching license.
Today, I teach physics and chemistry to eager and challenging high school students. My income is lower, but I am amply repaid by the fun and growth I share with my students, and I relish each day with my class. Whereas the adversarial nature of law sharpened aspects of my personality I would rather had stayed dull, teaching makes me strengthen the best parts of myself. My students’ questions force me to learn more, and think more deeply, about my subjects. I could not be happier that I made a late-career change back to the work that brings me so much pleasure.
I love this story! What do you want to do in life? Is the answer obvious or elusive? Let me hear from you!
“My passion is ensuring that every adult is mentally ready to succeed in all transitions that comprise the adult years. The meaning in my life comes from helping my patients see themselves, their situation, their future, and the entire world with new eyes and a newly courageous attitude.