I made a decision a few weeks ago that at the time seemed a little crazy. With no job prospects, I decided to resign from my dream job. In less than a year, the position began to resemble a nightmare. I’m relatively young, so it wasn’t likely a midlife crisis, but I haven’t the words to describe it any other way. Thankfully, with the support of my beautiful wife, I was able to make the decision and chance our future. Today is my final day with the National Park Service. What have I learned? I still love the National Park Service, but it’s more enjoyable, at least for me, as a visitor.
Sometimes things aren’t what they appear from the outside. Sometimes things don’t work out, and it’s really no one person’s fault. And, sometimes, you just have to reevaluate your life and ask a simply question, “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? Am I happy?” Ok, it’s important, really, to ask many questions; however, the point I’m trying to make is that it’s okay to take a chance if things aren’t working out.
I’ve been desperately afraid for weeks that I wouldn’t be able to support the family or pay the mortgage. I secretly, though no longer secretly, thought, “Am I going to be that vet on the corner with the sign?” Your brain can drive you crazy when you’re battling multiple internal dialogues. I’ve always fancied myself a responsible person, so deciding to switch careers without a career actually waiting for me to switch too is really out of character.
So, what’s the point? I went out on a limb, and it worked. That’s the point. I decided that my happiness trumped all else. If I’m miserable, I’m sure I’m a worse husband, father and friend. So, I decided that going through the motions of life content with my mundane existence to pay a mortgage and collect mountains of useless material items until my body and brain deteriorates to the point that the only thoughts circulating through my demented brain were regrets is not how I wanted to live this short life.
On Tuesday I accepted a teaching position at a middle school near my home to teach social studies. I will also most likely be the basketball coach. After 14 years of working in the field of public affairs, I will finally get to use my education to start a new career, and I couldn’t be happier. Though I’m taking a significant reduction in pay, I no longer believe happiness has a monetary value. I will have the summers and holidays off with my beautiful bride and children. I met some really great people in the short time I was a park ranger, and I don’t regret the experience. I saw more monuments than I have in years and got to learn about some really interesting ancient cultures. So, I will still tell people to visit their National Parks because they’re awesome. However, now I get to teach and advocate for education, something I’ve always been passionate about.