Thursday, May 31, 2012

Good night, and good luck.

I haven't been sleeping. More specifically, I haven't been sleeping between the hours of  2am and 5am, because this is the cracked, finger-smudged window of time in which my brain harnesses the darkness and negativity takes the reins. I've counted thousands of sheep, I've sipped a hundred cups of chamomile, I've drugged myself with Advil PM - but unfortunately, those standbys do little to calm an anxious mind. (My friends know well this insomnia - sometimes Killian and Stacy feel like old war buddies - and it's just something I accept as par for the course of unsettled twenty-somethings dealing with too many doubts about... well, being unsettled. As we go to bed, we just have to wish ourselves good night, and good luck.)

During the day, it's easier to take a brighter approach to my anxieties, to let a little light fall on my worries. Small problems cast small shadows. But at night, the light is gone. At night, the glass is always half empty.

"In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning" - F. Scott Fitzgerald

This was exacerbated yesterday when I learned the MAT program I was most excited about at UW is no longer offered thanks to a new departmental dean. The news was a little more devastating than it probably should have been, given the very preliminary stages of my planning, but it still felt like the rug was unceremoniously pulled from under already shaky legs. I've held many restless 3am vigils in bed agonizing over my future, and I know there will be more over the next several months (years, decades, etc.); last night was no exception.  Because soon I think I might actually be taking a step - maybe not in the direction I'd planned, but a step nonetheless.

I've always been interested in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), although it's something I've always compartmentalized in my head as a nice idea, but maybe not the actually actionable one for Career Kait. Remember ESL (English as a Second Language)? It's the small-minded ancestor of a field that has evolved and expanded into something really exciting at the international level, way beyond photo-flashcards for transplanted children in a tiny back room of a public school. And as it turns out, the community college a few blocks away from my apartment? It offers TESOL certification.

I spoke with the program coordinator yesterday, and with my B.A. in English and history of tutoring English from grade-school level to university level, she encouraged me to enroll. The course is 8 weeks this summer, followed by a grammar-specific course in the fall (for which I am perversely excited, because immersing myself in an environment of proper grammar is sexy, sexy, sexy). Once I can put that certification on my resume, I can do anything from teaching classes at English learning centers in the US to working as a language aide in schools, to teaching English in countries anywhere in the world. And if I want to continue toward getting my regular teaching certificate, the TESOL certification is just another advantage and gets me back in the classroom to start logging experience hours. Plus, the cost is significantly less, both money-wise and risk-wise, than other programs about which I feel less sure.

"One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night" - Kahlil Gibran

I still don't really know what I'm doing, or if this is the right choice, or even a good one at all. I'm plagued by fear and am struggling to move forward while pulling the weight of the insecurities I'm constantly dragging behind me. Tonight, I will probably lie in bed at the appointed time and place, prodded awake by anxiety, paralyzed by doubt, inspired by the crowding sheep to run away to New Zealand to work on a farm where I won't have to worry about money or teaching certificates. Tonight, I will want to take the half-empty glass and smash it against the wall. But today, reason and rationality edge out the fear. Today, the glass is half full.

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