How I Decided to Become a Teacher

My stay in Taiwan ended with a telephone call. My dad let me know the bad news that my grandfather was sick and that he may not have much more time to live. My Chinese program was over so I quickly packed my bags, said my goodbyes and headed back to the States.

When I returned home I discovered that my grandfather’s kidneys had stopped working and that he was on dialysis.  His life would be prolonged although he would slowly weaken. I spent much time fussing over his treatments.

On a personal level, I had classic reverse culture shock. Everything at home was the same and yet I had changed.  No one could relate to me. Everyone was happy to see me and I was happy to reconnect,  but each interaction increased my anxiety.  What was I going to do with my life now that I had returned from Taiwan?  What would I tell my family and friends when they asked what my plans were? My peers had gone on to jobs, grad school and  adulthood, and I was directionless and broke. I had a car to drive but didn’t have money for gas.

My parents wanted to have the “what are you going to do now” talk and I knew I needed an answer. I didn’t know what I wanted, so I made myself make a decision. I said I wanted to become an elementary school teacher and pretended it was what I wanted to do. I convinced myself it was a noble profession.  I reasoned to myself that if I were to go back to Taiwan or live overseas again, teaching experience would be beneficial.  Kids are cute and I could help disadvantaged children develop literacy.  I could get my credential in one year and escape my state of limbo. I’d have a focus for the next couple of years. I’d have a stable job. So that is how the decision was made.

Questions for Discussion: How did you decide on your career? Have you ever made a decision that you knew was a wrong one? If yes, why? What was the result?

Author’s Reflections: Looking back, I wish I had looked for a full-time job and spent more time considering options before rushing into making such an important decision. I could have worked as a substitute teacher first. Or asked for counsel from mentors or wise peers instead of making the decision entirely on my own. (Proverbs 15:22 in the Bible says “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”) I was still young and had many opportunities to choose from,  but I rushed into the decision. Scared, I became overly practical. I didn’t ask for help. I lost hope in myself.

Author: Patricia Tina Wu

I'm a teacher educator, realtor, mom, and now also a blogger. I've worked in corporate sales and marketing and as an elementary school teacher. Settling into a career has always been difficult for me. I hope that my experiences will help career seekers, young people, and their parents navigate what is sometimes a confusing and difficult area of life. I'm not out of the desert yet, but things are finally starting to make more sense.

2 thoughts on “How I Decided to Become a Teacher”

  1. I decided on my career based on my strengths and what fed my spirit–I seemed to have limitless energy completing tasks when I was on flow with particular strengths that felt a joy or easy to want to do and do well. My original goal was an opera singer, but as the competition became tougher, and my weaknesses were easily exposed among my peers that excelled ahead of me I lost the joy as well as my connection to the Holy Spirit being in my work as well as my study. Choosing something one loves as a means of capital really ruins it because joy doesn’t always survive the pressure. I came to teaching as a trial–marrying children’s ministry with my knowledge of performance. I offer what I can until it is their time to move on. I do not manage children–I teach. Management is a completely other pressure that I wouldn’t do well under.


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