Apple Core: Part II

"I regret to inform you that Friday, March 4, 2016, will be my last day."

Never a great way to start off a conversation with your employer. After months of trying to sort out my financial issues with Teach for America, I realized that I would have to leave my corps commitment early in search of paying employment. (I say "paying employment" and not "better paying employment" because TFA and my school might as well have not been paying me at all for all the bills my meager paychecks could cover). Perhaps, if I were a fresh-faced undergrad with no debt and no idea how much normal people should be paid for hard work, I could have stayed my two years.

Unfortunately, I am almost three years out of undergrad and have lots of high-interest debt to show for it. I can blame my humble beginnings, never learning financial planning until it was too late, having my parents' paycheck-to-paycheck example to follow, and many other things for my current financial strain; however, none of it matters because none of the reasons for how I got into this mess will pay any of these bills.

While I was learning to be the best first-year science teacher I could be, I should have been focused on full lesson plans, grading, differentiation, and end-of-courses. I was instead blindingly stressed and focused on Ford Credit, Lending Club, Capital One, Wells Fargo, CareCredit, Barclaycard, rent, the electric bill, the water bill, and several others, but I can't even list them all because it's giving me a headache. As a TFA teacher, I had never worked so hard to be so poor. The financial distress, racial tensions and cultural clashes all came to a head with the result of me being wildly unhappy and unfulfilled in eastern Kentucky.

Hiking at Jenny Wiley State Park, Kentucky
My classroom management was terrible, my lessons suffered, and I fell into a depression due to loneliness, fear of failure, and financial strain. I took solace in being outdoors and hiked often, but even that couldn't pull me out of what I was feeling and experiencing. The new year brought fresh hell and I cracked. So, I started looking for a new job in or near a city, found one in marketing, packed up a Budget truck with the help of my sister and her boyfriend, and moved to the Washington, DC area.

I wish I could go back and do TFA again - but do it right. I would never accept a position in such an isolated place, I would never accept a job without first knowing what my salary would be, and I will never stay in a place or a job again out of obligation while the rest of my life burns down around me. Lessons learned.

My students were the best part of my Kentucky life; I'll think of them often and miss them terribly. I had some wonderful colleagues in teachers and administration that I adored; I hope to keep in touch with them. While I learned that some parents are more prejudiced than their children, I also re-learned southern hospitality, the true meaning of "warm welcome," and how comfortable it is to live simply.

For now, Appalachia is not where I am meant to be. I'm not sure if DC is where I'm supposed to be either, but I do love the area, I'm getting back on my financial feet, and I'm feeling better everyday. What am I doing with my life? No idea. However, I'm working on it.