The Moment I Heard the Call To Reinvent Myself
In 2007, I worked for a commercial refrigeration company in St. Louis, MO as a national account sales manager for the Anheuser-Busch account. One of my responsibilities was to attend all AB special events where our innovative and still prototype beer cooler was going to be featured. This included the 2007 Superbowl parties in Miami, Florida! Without a doubt, this was a very cool job and client to have as a single 25-year-old.
That same year, I approached two years of working part-time as a valet parking attendant at local restaurants and nightclubs. This part time job helped me pay off my student loans and credit card debt more quickly. However, working on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights after 9-10 hour days at the office plus my work-related travel started to take a toll on my body.
After nearly two years of keeping this pace, I needed to find another solution to make money on the side. Then I had an idea to tutor high school math. I figured I could charge about $25 an hour and with enough hours per week, I could replace parking cars part-time. So I launched an experiment. I placed an ad on Craigslist (an online classifieds platform) offering my tutoring services. Within a couple of weeks, someone replied and I had my first client – Patricio. Patricio was a pre-med student at Washington University. He needed help with Game Theory. This was not quite what I had in mind, but he replied to the ad and was willing to pay me, so we got to work.
I discovered how much I loved tutoring Patricio, helping him build confidence in the subject and think his way through the problems. Even though it took several hours to prepare for our sessions since I had never taken Game Theory before, I loved every minute I spent tutoring.
Dating My New Interest – Tutoring Math
I continued to park cars during this time since my one tutoring client was only meant to be an experiment. However, a few months after I was done working with Patricio, I hit a major milestone in my debt payments and decided to quit my part-time valet parking attendant job.
With extra time on my hands, I started to think about what I could do next to work towards the next milestone of my debt repayment. I didn’t have to think long before I thought about tutoring math again. Truth was, ever since I had finished up working with Patricio (btw, he passed his class!), I could not stop thinking about how much I enjoyed tutoring.
The thought crossed my mind that I might be meant for another kind of work even though I loved my day job and there would be a lot less free beer if I became a math tutor!
I wasn’t ready to quit my job so I thought about how I could continue to flirt with the idea of teaching math. One day, while going through Craigslist ads of people looking for math tutors, I came across a post for a part-time role at an after-school learning center. Naturally, they were looking for experienced math teachers, however, I had to try. I distinctly recall thinking about a story my art history teacher told me about a time when Leonardo Da Vinci wrote a cover letter for a job he had no experience. She told me about a letter he wrote detailing all of the incredible things he could do in such a role and played down his previous career as an artist.
That story inspired me to write my own bold cover letter that would completely distract the reader from the fact that I sold beer coolers and had no formal teaching experience. I hit submit and waited for a reply.
And then I got an email back from them thanking me for my application and letter. They reiterated they wanted someone with experience teaching math but thought an in-person meeting wouldn’t hurt given the passion and confidence I communicated through my letter.
We met and I got the job! My flirtation with teaching math was now officially entering the dating phase. I worked as many evenings and hours as they would offer me after I was done at the office. I worked with math students ranging from 6th grade through freshman year of university.
And then it happened, I heard the call!
After 3 months of tutoring at the learning center, it had become clear that there was something else out there for me. Seven months later, I said goodbye to my colleagues and fully committed to reinvent myself into a math teacher.
What is The Call to Reinvent Yourself?
The call to reinvent yourself is that feeling you get when your mind and heart have discovered something more aligned to your values, passion, and purpose than what you are doing today. This call can come several times in your life, each one serving as the starting point to another leg on your journey to reinvention.
This feeling is different than the desire to quit or leave behind someone or something in your life. If you no longer enjoy your work or perhaps your job has become a bad situation for you that is not the same as hearing the call to reinvent yourself.
The call to reinvent yourself has nothing to do with moving away from something and everything to do with moving towards something. This is an important distinction because quitting does not guarantee you will reinvent yourself. During the Great Resignation, many people quit their jobs, but not all of them reinvented themselves or ended up in a better situation.
What Happens Next?
That is ultimately up to you. One option is to do nothing. You can ignore the call and keep doing what you are doing.
Another option is to talk yourself out of it. Tell yourself that you can’t reinvent your career or life after all you have invested into your current path. You think about all the people you will let down. You worry about the financial consequences. You conclude that reinvention is just not possible for you and that you’ve already chosen and committed to your path. Afterall, quitters never win. But you agree to always wonder, “what if?”
Or you answer the call. You explore the call, you flirt with it, you get to know it and yourself better. You simply have fun with it. No need to quit your job or disrupt your life.
For me, teaching math part-time at the learning center for almost a year was my way of getting to know my interest. In the process, I also got to know myself better. After this period of time, I knew, with a lot of confidence, that it was time to move on in a new direction from my current career.
As with all matters of the heart, not everything works out, so if it doesn’t get passed the dating phase, that’s ok. It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. If nothing else, you’ll have learned new skills, made a small impact, and gotten to know yourself better. Not a bad deal.
If you need help answering the call, reach out. It is my mission to help people move towards those things that align best with their values, passion, and purpose.