If you missed part 1, see it here!
Where we left off…
Even though I had this new outlook in life and newly found confidence in myself, I was still stuck in my current job situation. I still haven’t figured out my new path yet. I still very much felt lost in terms of work and what to do about it. Do I job search? Go back to school? I had no clue. Then something happened out of my control: I was laid off. Or, as they put it: ” I am being displaced.” Thanks.
Yes, most people would probably freak out at being laid off. Which I was, at first. Really, I felt hurt (and maybe embarrassed) that I was one of the chosen ones. But it was the best thing they could have done. I would have never left on my own. I still didn’t have the courage to or a point of direction that would have allowed me to leave on my own. I needed that kick in the pants. I needed a push. Yes, it helped that I got a severance and unemployment. But those funds really don’t last long when you have bills (plus thanks to taxes, they take like half that money away right off the bat, so you really don’t get as much as you think you do on paper).
I got let go in November, so I decided that the following spring I would go back to school full time and finish my Masters in chemistry. For a few years at this point, I was going to school part time, which was taking forever since I was only taking 1-2 classes at time. I took this opportunity to at least finish this degree and be done with it. I only had four classes left, so I just took them all at once.
It was nice being in school full time again. Felt weird because I felt like the oldest one there (I was only like 29, but everyone else was right out of college, so I felt old). I also came from working full time for like 7 years, so I really felt like I was in a different mental place than everyone else. Even though it was a graduate program, majority of the students were in their early twenties and haven’t really entered the work force yet (just out of undergrad). I remember thinking, “you have no idea what you are getting yourself into, “ haha. (Mind you, I was just burned by the industry, so of course I was bitter).
However, during this time, I really enjoyed being home. Like a lot. I loved getting up and just starting my day when I wanted, and the only worry was going to class. I really wanted to take this opportunity and just catch up on life. Since I had this newly found time freedom, I told myself I have no excuse for getting myself healthy again. I realized that years of job stress contributed to me gaining weight and not putting consistent healthy habits first. I started to workout, everyday (no excuses!). I discovered Zuzkalight and HIIT workouts. I found out that I loved to workout at home and loved the intensity of the shorter workout model. I still workout to her everyday (well, not so much now during pregnancy, but still a few times a week. She is amazing.).
I created my own schedule and routine of getting up, having coffee, relaxing a bit, working out, and then continuing on with my day. I realized that working out first thing was the best for me, and it really set me up for the day. I had more energy and confidence throughout the day on the days I exercised first thing. I realized the importance of having a good morning routine to creating less stress for the rest of the day (now “morning routines” are all the rage, but back then you never heard about them, so this really was new found knowledge for me).
All these practices I started then, but I still do to this day because I realized that starting the day right, is very important to me. Getting up, having a cup of coffee, and just relaxing for the first hour of the day really does set the tone and mood (plus does anyone else notice that your first cup of coffee (or tea) is the best thing ever?). So, when I eventually did go back to work full time, I never gave this routine up. I rather go to work late, but in the right frame of mind, then start my day with stress and not having “my time.” My productivity is actually better when my mornings are about me, so I always kept these little morning rituals going.
After the semester ended and it was was now summer I realized, “OMG, my first summer off in like 10 years”! It was amazing! I was able to visit my parents during the week and go to the beach. I was able to actually have a summer where it felt like summer. Forgot what that was like. Yes, I was starting to become a little more broke as time went on but I never really actively job hunted. I hated the idea of going to back to the pharmaceutical industry or corporate life, because I was so miserable before. Yes, finances were starting to stress me out, but I still wasn’t ready yet and honestly, I didn’t really know what to do. (I might have applied to some things online, just to say I did something, but my heart was never in it). I spent this time, still reading and listening to personal development books to keep my mindset in check. I knew that I had to in order to get through this. If I had dwelled on being unemployed or freaked out over my situation, I knew it would not help me. I sort of had this mentality, that everything will work out. I just didn’t know how yet. (Yes, I know I was very lucky to go this long without a job and be able to do this. Disclaimer: I was still a consultant with Arbonne at this time too, so it wasn’t completely like I was doing nothing. Doing that really helped with the sanity too).
To this day, I am very grateful to my husband for just letting me have this time without pressuring me to get a job. I told him,”everything will work out, it just sucks now”. He really was good to me during this time and allowed me to just figure things out on my own. Yes, our savings was taking a huge hit and we had to cut back on a lot of things. However, reflecting back on this period now, I realized that I really needed time to “reset.” It was like I had left a horrible relationship. I had to rediscover what I really wanted again and to put “me” first.
Right when money was about to become a real issue, something happened. I received an email from the chemistry department chair from my school about becoming an adjunct professor to teach lab. What?! Talk about timing. She knew I had industry experience, and was unemployed so asked me if I was interested. Mind you, I had no teaching experience and if you had asked me to teach like 5 years ago, I would have definitely said no (and thought you were crazy for even asking). But, I accepted. I felt very flattered that she would even consider me, so I jumped on it.
I was given a freshman chemistry lab course. It was the scariest thing I have done in a long time. I literally had no idea what I was doing. I just followed one of the other lab professors and thankfully, they have a really good lab coordinator who helped me a lot that year. But every single time I had to talk in front of the class, I turned beet red and basically fumbled my way through. This was entirely new territory to me. Since, I was home during the day, I was able to take the time to learn the material before each class so I didn’t look completely stupid to them. I really wanted to be good at this. I would practice in front the mirror a lot and just walk through what I was going to say before each class, so I would feel more comfortable. It was a whole new experience for me.
It didn’t take me long to discover something: I loved teaching. The students were so much fun and I loved showing them lab stuff. It did take me a looooog time to feel at least somewhat confident to talk at the chalkboard, but if I was showing them how to set up experiments or lab stuff, it felt very natural to me. I still loved being in a lab, even if it was just a freshman college lab. I spent 7-8 years in a industry lab setting. I knew some stuff (haha). I taught in a way that felt the most authentic for me. This whole teaching thing was actually kinda cool.
I taught two semesters of just lab. Loved every second of it. Plus, I liked the flexibility of it. Yes, class times were set, but the rest of the time was mine. Since I was only an adjunct, I only had to be there during my class time. I could prep and grade at home on my schedule. Before my third semester at working at the school, I was offered a class upgrade: lecture course. I had a meeting with the department chair and she offered me a chance to teach a lecture in the fall. I had two choices: forensic science (which, yes would have been an interesting class), and nutrition. Well, more specifically, Chemistry and Nutrition. In my head, I was shocked. A nutrition class!! Something about this opportunity felt very good. I mean, they were offering me a class to teach two of my favorite subjects: chemistry and healthy living. Talk about the universe talking. Of course, I jumped on it. I spent the last 10 years teaching myself how to be healthier and obsessing over all the nutrition info I was learning and reading. I really felt this was something, I was meant to do. It may sound so silly, but it felt like the universe really was telling me something at this moment. It truly felt like I was given a huge gift or a big slap in the face, “This is your path! Seize it!”
However, teaching a lecture is completely different than teaching lab. In lab, you are given everything. I didn’t have to write up anything and the whole syllabus was given to me to how to run the class. But for lecture, I had to come up with everything. The lectures, the exams, and all the materials. I was given a book at the beginning and some old lectures/exams from when it was taught years ago which was a starting point. It gave me a baseline to work on. I basically just lectured straight from that book that first year. It gave me structure and a foundation.
That very first day, I was scared to death. Probably more freaked out than when I first starting teaching lab. This was my class. These students were completely dependent on me. Scary thought. I still feel bad for those first semester students. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was talking about. Also, I felt like I looked like a student, so it was a real test to my confidence. I somehow survived (and so did the students). But after that first semester, I realized that that was the most fun I have had in a long time “working.”