I want to go to Teacher Training.
It’s been in the back of my mind for a few months now; a dream that I tried to ignore because of course it was never going to happen. Nine weeks in a foreign country and an $11,000 tuition fee – plus flights, plus food and other expenses, plus rent and bills back home… all while not working for over two months? And then coming home and starting life again as a Bikram teacher in a city saturated with them; taking a substantial pay cut even if I succeed? There is no way it could ever happen.
Except… maybe it could. The whispers started when I wistfully looked into the dates for Autumn training this year. A friend and I have booked a trip in the USA from mid August to 14th September… and training starts in LA on 16th September. The timing couldn’t be better… so maybe it’s possible after all? I have some money saved for the trip already – if I scrimp and save and fundraise over the next few months, then I can surely get enough to cover expenses for the duration of training as well. And a loan could cover the tuition and accommodation fees – a bank would definitely approve it given my current salary, savings and work history. Repayments on a two year loan would be more than affordable with my current income.
But would they be affordable on a teacher’s salary? From what I’ve read, full-time beginner teachers earn about $20,000 less than my current wages. It’s a hefty blow, but one I think I could weather. I’d save a substantial amount on work lunches and clothes (and, of course, on Bikram classes). Not enough to make up the difference, of course… but I have no other loans, no credit card debt, no car (even when bought outright, always so costly with insurance, registration, petrol and repairs), no ongoing expenses outside of my rent, groceries and house bills. No children, no live-in family, nobody else my decisions might be affecting if I have to cut everything back to basics. I tend towards costlier options when I can afford them (in shoes, groceries, furniture, everything), automatically assuming them to be better by virtue of their price… but I can learn to reconsider. To embrace more modest needs and more considered choices. To change my mode of living when my salary falls, to mirror how it naturally changed as my pay increased.
Would I be able to find work as a teacher? Surely I could find a few classes a week – there are a dozen studios scattered around Melbourne and most of them are supportive of new graduates. If I’m a good teacher, I’ll be offered more classes over time. I’m currently a PA, so temp or part time admin work could theoretically take up the slack if I’m not making ends meet. Other Australian cities are crying out for qualified teachers; I could even move interstate for a few months to gain more experience, although Melbourne will always be where my heart is. And given that I was planning on leaving my job shortly anyway (due to both the appalling office culture and the fact that the company was recently bought out and nobody is quite sure what the outcome will be for employees) the absolute worst case scenario would be that I quit my job, have three months of amazing experiences in America, gain a deeper understanding of this yoga that I love so much… and then come home and pick up where I left off. Back to the corporate grind, albeit with considerably less money than when I left.
Even if it works, though – if I “make it” as a Bikram teacher… what happens in five years; in ten? Could I do this for the rest of my life? Even now I have days when I want nothing more than to flee the hot room and never come back. So if this doesn’t turn out to be a longterm career, how do I re-enter the mainstream workforce with no recent relevant experience on my resume? Am I throwing away my future while striving towards a fantasy? This is one question I don’t have an answer to. All I know is that I want to try anyway.
But how do I know I could even make it through the teacher training itself? With my paltry one year of yoga, while others have been practicing for decades. With my loathing of the classes that are “too hot” and my habit of setting up right next to the door to take advantage of the cooling draught of air that periodically circulates, when the temperature at training soars towards 50 degrees. With my insomnia, trying to cope with already reduced sleeping hours. With my introverted nature screaming for seclusion while surrounded with 700 students and living with a roommate for the first time in my life. With my doubt that I’m just not good enough. Yet more questions that I just can’t answer.
Ultimately though, I think I could do it. And really, that’s all anyone has. That they think they could do it. Nobody can know. All you can have is the desire to try and the belief that it could be done… and done by you. Done by me.
When I thought the dream was impossible, I was quietly miserable but resigned to my fate. Now that I know it’s within my grasp, I’m terrified. My friends cry out that I should follow my dreams, that if it’s physically possible then it should be done – but my dreams involve a leap of faith with no safety net. Following my dreams could very well end up with me losing everything – my home, my job, my hope. To leave everything I know, put myself into debt for the first time in my life and then come back to pressing bills, no money, no income, no guaranteed job and significantly lowered earning prospects – how could that possibly be the right thing to do?
And yet, it feels so much like the right thing to do.