I got fired last week … laid off, let go, whatever you want to call it. It was a total shock, devastating, almost debilitating at first. I have always been your typical, responsible, type A, anxiety-ridden perfectionist. I got straight A’s all throughout school, got almost every job I’ve ever applied for, and have never been fired before. This was a huge blow to my self-esteem. I have been an English teacher for almost eleven years, and on the last day of school, I was told that due to low student enrollment my position was being dissolved. I couldn’t help but wonder what I did wrong? Why was I not enough? If they really valued me as a teacher, could they not have found a way to keep me? Why me and not someone else?
My first thoughts went to my recent struggle of becoming a working mom. Before I had kids, I had put my everything into my career. I would stay at school until 5:00 in the evening while grading papers, working on lessons, and changing bulletin boards. I would get to school early to set up for the day and have time to quietly prepare myself and review my agendas. I took extra classes, went to conferences, and was always giving 110 percent for sure! After becoming a mom, I took two years off from teaching when I had my two boys less than two years apart. Once my youngest turned one, I decided to go back to work. The first year I taught full time, and it was a constant struggle to balance work and motherhood. We had just moved 6 hours away from our family, so we had no backup to help us on those crazy days. My kids had to come first, and between school drop offs and pickups, someone always getting sick, and trying to spend quality time with them in the evenings, it just seemed that there wasn’t enough time in the day. I felt like I was failing miserably at everything, and I certainly wasn’t giving my job 110 percent. Luckily, the following year I was able to go part time. My school graciously allowed me to teach fewer classes, and I was better able to balance it all for two years. Unfortunately, when student enrollment dropped, part-time teachers were the first to go.
The first day after I got let go I was in total denial and disbelief. The second and third day the tears rained, and I couldn’t get out of bed. The fourth day I got my butt up, redid my resume, filled out applications, got copies of transcripts, test scores, and certifications, and tried to find a new job. As I was working through this process, a beautiful thing happened.
As my school was letting me go, so many powerful, intelligent, and strong women in my life, held on to me tightly.
They supported and lifted me up during this time when I was in need. Women who were principals, assistant principals, department chairs, business owners, bloggers, mothers, nurses, and teachers all rallied to help me: another woman in need. Female colleagues and supervisors from my past and present wrote letters of recommendation, made phone calls to schools on my behalf, encouraged me, and told me that I could do this! My girlfriends, mom, and sister all supported me as they listened and cheered me on! They all slowly but surely restored my confidence and gave me the push I needed in order to move on and embrace this next chapter in my life. By the end of the next week, I had an interview! Although it felt like a win, I still felt a little broken inside. I was sad and felt like so much had been taken away from me. I was going to miss my school, my colleagues, my students, my safety net: a place that I had come to feel comfortable. Change is scary and hard, and I knew I still had a long road ahead of me.
However, as the days waned on, my thoughts repeatedly revisited the idea that true beauty lies in supporting one another. It was uplifting and encouraging and gave me the motivation I needed to do not only do my best for myself but for the women who gave their time and love to me! I wanted to make them proud, and I wanted to push myself so that maybe one day I would find myself in a position where I could support and help lift up someone else in need!
Brittany is married to her husband Glenn, and they are parents of two boys, Rowan, 6, and Everett, 4. She is currently a part time high school English teacher in Texas, but she firmly believes in the saying, “You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can’t take the New Orleans out of the girl!” She loves literature, writing, and exploring the beautiful outdoors of Texas while coming home for big New Orleans family parties as often as possible! She is grateful for the opportunity to expose her boys to the beautiful culture of NOLA!