I hate when things feel bittersweet. I honestly think I would rather feel downright sad than have that tinge of bitter tainting what would otherwise be a pleasant emotion.
Today, the student’s last day of the school year, was a bittersweet day.
I’ve been a special education teacher for the past four years. During that time I’ve met some truly amazing people. I work with some of the most patient, compassionate, passionate professionals that I’ve ever known. Many of these people have become friends—some are like family. The students that I’ve worked with represent the definition of kindness. They are open minded, sweet, funny, loyal, hardworking, and positive, even in the face of enormous challenge. They humble me on a daily basis and I have loved being their teacher.
So it’s a bittersweet feeling to reach the end of the school year, the end of this school year, because I know I won’t be back with them in September. When fall rolls around, for the first time since I was five years old, I won’t be starting a new school year. I am so lucky to work for this amazing school district because they are allowing me to take a leave of absence to concentrate on writing for a year. Come fall, I will not be working as a teacher; after today I will officially be a full time writer.
A little more than a year ago, and a few months before our 29th birthday, a dear friend and I embarked on a crazy scheme. We were going to get serious about writing, publish our books, and make every effort to be where we wanted to be in our lives by the time we turned thirty. We even had a name for our plan: 30 and Out. It was a promise to ourselves, a mantra, a motivation to kick our own butts and get a move on. Our own personal revolution. 30 and Out.
I’ve done everything I could over the past year to try to make that promise come true. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. I’ve researched my market and the publishing industry. I’ve given up free time and skipped social events. I’ve forced myself to sit and write even when I didn’t feel the slightest amount of creativity or motivation. I put out four full-length books and pretty much worked my tail off, in addition to teaching. Some of the time that sucked, some of the time I felt tired and discouraged. Okay, a lot of the time I felt tired. Writing 30 hours a week in addition to working full time is no joke!
But it’s also been the most amazing year of my life. In the past year I’ve told stories that I’ve wanted to tell for ages. I’ve had the chance to work with some truly gifted professionals in this field. I’ve sold more than 45,000 books. Most importantly, I am satisfied and fulfilled in a way I never thought possible. Every day I feel a rush knowing that someone, somewhere, may be reading one of my books. There is no better feeling than that, honestly. The idea that I’ll get to do this thing full time is completely mind blowing. Exciting. Scary. Overwhelming.
For the next year I am sure I will miss teaching, but I am also certain I will wake up every day excited to write, excited to focus all my attention on this thing I love so much. I am positive I will miss my students and I will miss the people I work with, but at the same time I am so proud to say that I did what I set out to do a year ago: I changed my life.
I’m not totally sure what this new life will look like, but I’m excited to find out. And I’m excited to be able to continue to tell my stories. I promise I’ll let you know how it goes.
30 and out.