Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dilemmas and Hard Choices

Times are tough. The economy still sucks and, as most artists could tell you, sales are slow. It is definitely a tough time to be a full-time artist. My husband is a free-lance audio engineer/ video editor so neither one of us has a regular paycheck coming in. I have been supplementing our income with math tutoring, working 6 hours a week. It doesn't seem like much, but it pays some important bills.  Despite these "rough" times, we seem to be doing fine financially, and are very happy with what we are doing with our lives. Could we use a little more money? Sure. Would it be nice to have health benefits again? Yes. Would it be nice to have a steady, predictable paycheck? Definitely. So when I got an email about a possible job teaching from January to May, I had to seriously consider what I wanted to do versus what my family needed.

I quit my teaching job in June of this year because I wanted more time to focus on painting. My work was starting to get noticed, and I was having to supply enough galleries that painting part-time just wasn't going to work anymore. I made all of the necessary steps in order to insure that my husband and I could survive without the reliable extra income. Like I said, things are fine. So when I first got the email about the teaching position, my first reaction was "no, definitely not!" But as I learned more about the job, I started to waiver.

Now, let's step back for a bit so that I can tell you a little about myself. I am responsible, almost to a fault. I pay my bills on time, I always show up to appointments early, and I make the responsible choice a majority of the time. I'm the person that is usually in charge of organizing activities or running events because people know that I can handle the responsibility and do a good job. My quitting my teaching job was a HUGE step, and very unlike my usual self. But I felt that I needed to do this, not only for my career, but also for my mental well-being (I have been called "up-tight" more than a few times!).

So now here we are, 6 months of painting and not doing the "responsible thing", and an opportunity lands in my lap. Do I take the job which will enable me to have a regular paycheck, possible health insurance, and will keep me from going through our savings account when sales are slow? It is a temporary job that will only last through May and the schedule isn't that bad. I would be teaching a subject that I love (math) and would be working with some good kids who really need a teacher to finish out the school year. The responsible me says "yes, take the job".

But then there's the part of me who thinks about the time I would be away from the studio, not painting. I think about waking up at the crack of dawn (ugh). I think about the times I was working full-time and painting, and how that was exhausting. Could I do it again? Do I even want to? It took such guts on my part to go against my nature and quit my job in order to pursue my art career. Would I somehow be demeaning my integrity as an artist by taking this job? How would I talk about my "leap" into full-time painting at the upcoming encaustic conference if I took a temp job teaching full-time? All these thought were racing through my head. It was going to be a hard decision.

I decided to meet with the principal of the school and see what he had to offer. After all, I may not even qualify for the job (I am only qualified to teach up to 10th grade) and my career dilemma would be a moot issue.

The meeting went well and I was leaning towards doing the responsible thing. Fortunately/ unfortunately it is now out of my hands. I am waiting to find out if HR will accept me on an emergency credential and approve my hiring. It could go either way. This district is known for making things difficult, I know from personal experience. I've decided to leave it up to "fate". If I am approved, and all the pay rates/ conditions are right, I will take the job. If HR puts up a stink, then I am back to being a full-time artist. Sometimes I am hoping things work out and I can start teaching again in January. Sometimes I really hope that they don't so that I don't have to worry about making that decision (I would still have to accept the job if I am approved). I guess we'll find out in a couple of weeks...!

1 comment:

  1. You'll be all the better at teaching this at The Conference because you've handled this new opportunity. And hey, I can think of a good reason to take the health insurance now....