Just Don’t Call Me Mrs. V.

If thrifting were my homework, this denim shirt would get me an A+. For months, I’d seethe with jealously as friends paraded around in sweet new denim digs from Joe Fresh, Mark’s, H&M, etc. I started to think finding a classic denim shirt at a thrift store just couldn’t be done. I was so tempted to make some teeny-tiny exception from my No-Mall rule, but I stayed strong. And wouldn’t you know it – I finally found one.

Speaking of homework, I feel a bit like an art teacher in this outfit. The shirt is old and oversized, and would make a fantastic smock. Additionally, the shoes are the closest thing to a craft project I’ve done – I painted them red with some leftover screen printing ink last night. So, when I paired these funky items with my formal vintage red skirt, I suddenly had the urge to start telling juvenile delinquents about Andy Warhol and Sister Wendy. I never wanted to teach, but if I did, I’d wear this. The students would admire my DIYed shoes and my trendy denim, yet respect my professional skirt and stern teacher-glasses. Everyday, we’d bond over art and literature, laugh, cry, then stand on chairs and get all Dead-Poets-Society (without the sad ending).

Silly day dreams aside, I never really wanted any of the teaching life. In fact, it was quite the opposite. But for many years, everyone assumed I’d end up at the chalkboard. Reflecting those years reminded me of a very simple lesson – don’t do something just because every thinks you should. You know how I learned that? I’ll tell you. Come on over to my side of the fence, Cory Matthews. I’m about to go Mr. Feeny all over this blog.

From a young age, I would sit at my kitchen table, cutting and pasting, drawing and scribbling. I always knew I wanted an artistic career, but I figured out early on that didn’t include teaching for me. My parents were always supportive of my alternative-creative-career-callings, but that can’t be said for everyone else I encountered. The closer I got to university, the more predictable the reactions became: “Oh, you’re arty? So…you’ll be teaching then?”. It only got worse when I chose a small Christian university, and paired my Art major with an English major. The resounding chorus became “Wait…you’re not teaching? What the heck else do you expect to do with that?”

Well, to all the naysayers from the days of my youth – I’m not teaching. In fact, I’ve carved out a rewarding career for myself that exists entirely outside a classroom. And you know what else? When I look at my fellow art classmates, they did too – one is a phenomenal wedding photographer, another is a photo journalist in NYC. Heck, one of my good friends went on to start her own Snow Cone business! The rest of the class is rounded out with account managers, designers, and art therapists. That’s pretty darn diverse.

In addition to all of that, a handful of my fellow alum became teachers – amazing teachers, actually. You know why? They wanted it. They didn’t land on it because they had no other choice, they didn’t default to it because everyone told them they should. They’re teaching because that’s what they were dreaming of at the kitchen table. I’ll tell you right now: If I had fallen victim to the assumptions of those around me, I would have ended up stinkin’ lousy teacher. I’d be aiming for Miss Honey and end up Ms. Krabappel. Teaching is best left to those who actually have the the passion (and the patience) for the classroom. Like these guys!

What’s the point in all this? Don’t choose a career because it’s what’s expected. You want to teach? Teach your heart out! You don’t? Don’t! Instead, choose a career that reflects your passions, not someones’ assumptions. We can’t all be Mr. Holland.

Sure, it might be a tough few years, and you might have to combat your fair share of stereotypes, but at the end of the day, the teachers will teach, and you’ll end up in something that feels comfortable. Hopefully as comfortable as my new denim shirt.

20 thoughts on “Just Don’t Call Me Mrs. V.

  1. Thank you enough for this post. I’m still a university student, but my majors (History and Global Interdisciplinary Studies, which is kind of like Sociology tacked onto Cultural Area Studies with a global perspective? I should really learn how to explain it…) are not exactly what most people would call “practical”. Honestly, I’m probably looking at grad school in order to be able to get a job. I know a History major who is looking forward to becoming the type of cool high school history teacher that got me into the subject to start with… but that’s not me!

    Sometimes when I hear about all the cool things my “practical” majored friends are doing (game design! working for Facebook! entering med school!) I get insecure… but you know, if you and plenty of other “arts & crafts”, as they’ve been nicknamed here, majors have found happiness in their jobs, I’m sure I can too.

    1. Definitely Caitlin! If I could add another thought to my post, I would mention that I know many people who aren’t necessarily doing their dream job 9-5, but still live content, fulfilling, creative lives. My sister has an administrative 9-5 job, but manages to infuse her non-work hours with painting, drawing, and showing her outwork outside those hours. Everyone needs a different balance, and no one path is more “right” than the others.

  2. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect thrifted denim shirt for FOREVER, but no luck! You made a real find there and styled it perfectly. :)

  3. Awesome post Julie! I love all the pop culture references. As one of your studio buddies who went teacher (as planned since I was about 5 and setting up school for my poor yonger siblings) I was happy to see very encouraging words for the artsy people at each end of the spectrum. Nice work!

  4. I LOVE this post. The assumption that everybody with left-brained skills can and should just fall into a teaching job drives me mad. And I also applaud any reference to Miss Honey. And Mr. Feeny.

  5. Great post! Not only is your outfit totally cute, I really can relate to the content. I’m a social work major, but people are just convinced that I’m going to be broke and/or taking children away from their families for the rest of my life. But, I’m actually really interested in working in either a domestic violence shelter, eating disorder rehabilitation center, or even working with social policy, which I find completely and utterly FASCINATING. I think so many people settle for ho-hum jobs because they think that is all that they can do, but there are so many creative things out there if that is what you are looking for!

    Also, I really appreciate your Boy Meets World/ Matilda blurbs. :)


  6. Good for you for sticking to your guns. I work with teachers – some teach bc they have passion & desire and are awesome teachers, some teach bc they get the summers off . Believe me you can pick them out!

  7. Great denim shirt, and horray for sticking to your no-mall rule!
    Your blog is always so fun to read!!

  8. Great denim shirt and I love it paired with the red skirt and red shoes, great outfit !

  9. I also love this post. I get told I should be a teacher a lot, and I cannot work out why. Maybe I should start asking people. I know I’d hate to be a teacher, so I resist. I work at a high school as a youthworker and that is close enough for me!

  10. Here here! I know too many people who went into teaching because it seemed like the easy option but ended up hating it – not good for them and not good for the kids. I even considered it myself, but luckily I remembered that I have little patience before I applied for any courses!

  11. I have a B.A. in English – everyone assumed I’d teach as well. I knew I’d be a horrible teacher, so I minored in Business, instead of Education, and went into technical writing, then on to web design and general IT support.

    On a different topic, LOVE the outfit!

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