231: Why I Left Higher Education

I had a Facebook memory pop up the other day. It was a picture of me during the last orientation that I’d worked as a full-time professional in higher education. I found myself “feeling some kind of way” remembering that time of my life. I recalled not knowing if I was making the right decision and/or if/how I was going to make it. What I did know was that something needed to change and that was my priority.

Memories in Higher Education – 01:30 

I remember something very interesting happened when I was in grad school. I took a strong skills assessment, and the results said I’d make an excellent college instructor. Mind you; I never had plans of going into higher ed. All I knew was I had a passion for teaching. I still love to teach. In fact, my whole business is built around teaching and helping people become better versions of themselves. 

Just the other day, a Facebook memory popped up on one of my fondest memories in higher ed – Welcome Week. I used to love Welcome Week. Seeing all the new students, happy and motivated about college was something I always looked forward to. 

Unfortunately, high ed had its lows, too. Although I still feel good remembering all the things I did, all the people I helped and all the lives I impacted, something just felt wrong. It was like being in a relationship with a toxic person – you love them, but deep down, you know they’re not good for you. In these moments, I sat down with myself and tried to figure out what I really wanted. The conclusion was that higher ed was no longer giving me joy and satisfaction in life, so I left. 

Why I Left Higher Ed – 06:40 

Dr. Eve and higher ed were a match made in heaven. I loved teaching, and everything just seemed to click whenever I got involved with anything higher ed. However, when I left my last higher ed job, I felt really tired. It was like the positions I held were draining my soul, which was really confusing since I was very passionate about what I did. So I did some soul searching and realized the problem was not higher ed; the problem was me. Was I doing all I could to excel in my job? Yes! Did I enjoy what I did? Absolutely! Did the roles I held suck the soul out of my body? I believe they did. 

What I learned from this internal discussion with myself was that feeling drained is a wake-up call to slow down. It was time to reconsider my approach to life and what I wanted to do going forward. I did not have a plan on what I wanted to pursue; all I knew was that I needed to leave higher ed. 

Always Put Yourself First – 11:02 

As first gens, our needs come last. We put our families, jobs, kids, and partners’ needs first. It’s not easy to put ourselves first because we’re taught that putting the needs of others ahead of our own is the right thing to do. However, I’ve come to realize that putting your needs first is a crucial step in any transition. If you feel like the thing you’re pursuing right now is not a great fit, let it go. Stop worrying about what everybody else will think. It might be scary to let go, but it’s something you need to do. 

In everything you do and every decision you make, think about yourself. Don’t complicate it. And you don’t even have to explain it to anyone. Choose you, and stick with it.