Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Smart Decisions

Lately, I have been thinking about the future...a lot.

The job(s) that I have right now were good things to get me on my feet upon returning from Japan. In the long run, however, none of them are that great. The company that hires me to do the work with the autistic kids and the PSR work is an okay place to work for but my hours kind of suck, the commute to certain clients kind of sucks, and the lack of retirement packages and benefits kind of sucks. Essentially, I like the job but I hate the material things I am getting out of it. I could be working somewhere that pays me more and gives me some stuff so that I can plan for my future a little more.

Then there is the video game store. Let's be honest, the video game store is a crappy place to work but I do it because it is kind of fun and I like a couple of the people I work with. There is zero future there and it is basically a hobby for me. To top it off, I seldom play that many video games and the games I buy are few and far between. I like the job because of the discount I get on games but I have yet to buy anything there so what is really the point, aside from the extra little bit of cash it gives me?

So where does that leave me?

I have a few options. First, I could go back to school. The upside there is that I like school, I can meet people, and I can make myself more appealing to employers. The downside is that school costs money and I can't work as much while I am attending classes. This means I would need student loans and some form of income that could sustain me. I hate applying for loans and I am not sure what job I could do that I could live off of and go to school.

The second option is to apply to every school district I can and basically say to myself that I will move to wherever I am hired. While this increases the odds I get a job, it also increases the odds of me moving somewhere I don't particularly want to. It also means I get paid less if the job is in some nowhere town.

Option three, while appealing is probably not the best idea and that is to pack my bags again and this time, go to China. This is something I think about daily. Part of me really wants to do this but the other part of me wants to stay put and figure my life out. I needed to go to Japan, I don't need to go to China. Not now anyways. If I were to pack up now, I would essentially be delaying the start of a career. China would be fun but it really wouldn't do anything for my future.

This leaves the last option and most likely the one I am going to take. Special education. The benefits of being a special ed teacher by far and away overshadow the two things that I see as being a downside. The two downsides would be that I would be teaching history and that I don't feel my calling is to teach special ed. While I don't consider special ed my calling in the education profession, I do not think this will keep me from doing a good job at it. I have had a taste of what it will be like from my current job and it isn't too bad. Other things I am taking into account are the benefits and retirement. The pay for special ed is higher than that of a normal teacher. Special ed teachers are needed just about everywhere. Special ed teachers get the same holidays and vacations as regular teachers. I would have fewer kids to worry about and those fewer kids would be able to get more of my attention. I would have less homework and finals to grade come test time. And lastly, I would still qualify this as a job to get the ladies. Also, I think it would at least get my foot in the door so I could teach history some other time or maybe part time.

Having decided this, on Friday I am going to talk to a special ed teacher for a high school in town and see what he knows as far as when and where would be the best time for me to jump in. While I am not special ed certified, I have a teaching certification and experience in the field. This means that I could be approved to teach it on an emergency need basis. I have even heard rumors that some schools will then pay for me to get the special ed training and certification that I would need. On top of it all, if I choose not to stay in Idaho, special ed teachers are in need pretty much everywhere and so I would open some doors as far as that goes.

Kind of along the same lines as far as future thinking goes, if I am going to try to stick around here and teach for a bit, I have been passively looking at houses. What is funny is that the houses I have been looking at are in the same neighborhood as my brother and his wife are probably going to be moving in to. Did either of us know this, no. But it would be cool to be able to live next door to my brother, that would be fun. Of course, the housing situation is largely reliant upon the job situation so for now, the house hunting is premature but still kind of fun to do.

I guess it all comes down to me being sick of treading water, which is what I have been doing since I have come back from Japan. You might even qualify my last year in Japan as treading water but I wasn't done with what I set out to accomplish there and therefore, I didn't want to come home. I came home when I did because I had accomplished all I wanted to get out of Japan and a little more. I am just ready for the future and in feeling more ready, I have felt a tad younger. I have been working out at least every other day at a gym and that is also helping. I can go for eight miles on an elliptical machine in half an hour so I must not be too old yet.

I think for a long time, I was waiting for stuff to fall into place and maybe that was part of my reasoning behind going to Japan. I just wanted luck to take over and put me wherever. What I have found is that luck can only get me about $25k a year without benefits and no future so now I need to take a more hands on approach to my life and maybe make it a bit more how I hoped it would turn out on the first try.


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