I Told Myself I Would Never Teach Again. But I Went Back. Here’s Why It Happened and What I Learned.
In 2022, I wrote an article about why I quit teaching after 2.5 years.
But… I ended up going back in March 2023. Even though I told the whole world I’d quit.
Here’s why it happened and what I learned.
(This article took me months to write because I couldn’t find the words to express how I felt. How lost I felt. How guilty and ashamed I felt for “taking steps backwards.” I’m glad I finished it - and this chapter of my life.)
Why did I go back?
1. We’re drawn to what’s familiar.
A huge bulk of my professional experience after university is teaching.
In total, I’ve taught for three years. So I know how to teach English to kindergarteners. I have classroom management techniques. I have the lesson plans, props, activities, and crafts.
So going back to teaching seemed like the right decision to make.
Because here’s the thing.
Humans seek environments and situations we’ve experienced before. We feel they’re safer and less risky. This reduces the uncertainty and anxiety that comes from the unknown.
For me, teaching was familiar. It felt safe and less risky compared to what I was doing at the time. Which was writing, making videos, looking for writing opportunities, and helping my parents at their restaurant.
2. Venturing into unfamiliar territory, like a new career, is scary.
Why? Because it requires you to learn new skills. To adapt to new challenges. To face uncertainty. And that’s damn terrifying. And it’s why we often opt for what we already know.
As for me? I was terrified. And I was overwhelmed by all the things I didn’t know how to do. Like how to write headlines. How to write subheadings. How to design thumbnails. How to write Gumroad sales pages.
So with so many things I sucked at, it just seemed easier to go back to teaching.
3. We crave stability.
Before going back to teaching, my income varied from month to month. And this lack of stability made me feel stressed and anxious.
In fact, our drive for stability is ingrained in our genes. It’s our survival instinct.
So, going back to teaching? Well, it’s what my brain craved. I was in a familiar environment. Each day was (essentially) the same. But most importantly, I got paid the same amount on the same day each month.
4. The circumstances seemed right.
When I made this decision, my parents had decided to move back to Taiwan. This meant they had to close their restaurant. And that I would lose a source of income because they paid me for helping them.
Now, I had the choice to look for another job in Budapest. But I didn’t. Because as I said earlier, we tend to go back to what’s familiar and easiest.
As luck would have it, I had a job offer in Taiwan already. My previous school offered me a position back in August 2022. I declined. Then, they reached out again in November 2022. I never responded because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take it.
But once my parents decided to move back to Taiwan, I reached out to the school in January 2023. The offer was still on the table.
So I accepted because it seemed like the right (and easiest) choice to make given my circumstances at the time.
At the time, I wasn’t making money from my articles or YouTube. I also didn’t have a strong desire to write for others who I didn’t feel aligned with, so I didn’t put in much effort to look for writing opportunities on Upwork or LinkedIn.
But after my parents decided to close their restaurant, I had to face the reality that I was running out of money.
So when I found out the offer from the school was still available… I jumped on it.
In a way, going back to teaching was a “get rich quick” scheme for me. I’d make money quickly. In a familiar environment. With skills I already had.
6. My parents told me it was a good idea.
When I first quit teaching to freelance at a digital marketing agency, my parents couldn’t understand what I was doing.
They couldn’t understand I worked for someone and with a team I’d never met in person (only on Zoom) writing for health & fitness coaches. They thought I wasn’t getting paid enough ($2000 USD per month by the time I left). They thought it seemed sketchy I didn’t have a contract or regular hours. And it seemed impossible to them I was making money sitting in front of a computer (which they thought was bad for my health).
So after I stopped working with the agency, they told me it’d be a good idea for me to teach again. They said, “Why not? You know how. You’ve done it before. It’s stable. It pays good money. Why wouldn’t you?”
So I took their advice. Why? I guess the social pressure got to me. Choosing a trusted profession, like teaching, was safe and more socially accepted by my family and friends.
In hindsight, I understand why my parents gave me this advice. They gave me advice based on their experiences and knowledge. And based on what they thought was best for me. But I learned, what they think is best for me isn’t what I need. I realized, though they didn’t understand what I wanted, I needed them to support me on my journey and trust that I’d figure it out.
How did I feel going back?
Initially, it was fine. Everything felt safe and familiar. But over time, I dreaded going to work.
Deep down, I knew this wasn’t where I wanted to be. That there had to be more to life than what I was doing. That life couldn’t be about going to a job I didn’t like every day. And that life couldn’t be about being surrounded by people who also hated their jobs, complained about it every day, and didn’t do anything to get out of it.
Do I regret going back?
No. I don’t regret it. Why? Because maybe it was what I needed.
I needed to go through another six months of teaching to commit to writing. To understand I’ve lost my passion for teaching (at least in a formal school setting). To understand I want to write full-time.
And to realize, no, I’m not opposed to working a 9-5. As long as the position is related to writing about topics I love. One where I can grow. One where I feel I’m bringing joy and value to the world inspiring others through my words and personal experiences.
People say a job doesn’t define you. That it doesn’t have to give you purpose. That you can do your job, but do something else for your purpose. But for me? That’s not possible. My job and purpose need to be the same.
After six months, August 18, 2023, was my last day.
What are my plans now?
First and foremost, to continue writing. To share my journey. Honestly, I don’t know where this writing thing will lead. I’m not even sure what I want out of it, what I’m hoping will come from it. All I know is if I never quit, something in my favour will happen. In the meantime, I will cold email companies and people I admire who I feel are aligned with my values.
P.S. I know I’m in a privileged position. I’m fortunate I have the option to move in with my parents before I embark on my next adventure in Europe. I’m fortunate I don’t have a home mortgage, car payments, pets, or much hindering me from taking a big risk. I’m simply writing and sharing my insights based on my personal experiences.