Laina’s love for helping young people grow into the best version of themselves made teaching seem like the obvious option. But over time, there was a lot more paperwork and a lot less young people. Her portfolio career now involves a creative passion that generates money, working closely with young people and a part-time role with an education social enterprise that fits around her plans to travel and deliver training to teachers in other parts of the world.
I cared so fiercely about education and helping young people, that I dove into a career as a secondary school teacher. Over a few years, I had ‘established’ myself, and with it, came the unavoidable managerial responsibilities, which meant spending less time making a positive impact, and more time doing meaningless paperwork.
I knew I had so much to give to the world, but the system was letting me down. Working 60-70 hour weeks left me feeling miserable and disempowered. I was being undervalued and overworked, and I was suffering; both physically and mentally. My family saw me crying about it all the time. Thinking about it still makes me sad.
There was a moment in October 2014, when I looked down at myself. In one arm, I was cradling my beautiful newborn niece and in the other, I was balancing schoolwork to mark. I knew there had to be more to life.
But I also knew I couldn’t make a change on my own. I really believed my skills weren’t transferable and I couldn’t figure out what else I could do. I heard of the Tribe and was drawn to the idea of meeting other people who were in a similar boat.
The Escape Tribe gave me so much confidence. I think I have a better understanding of myself now than I ever have done before. I never considered how important it was to figure out what I stood for, what I actually enjoyed doing and what I didn’t like about teaching. The Tribe also gave me friendships whom I know will have my back for life.
I turned my side project during the Tribe, Photos by Laina into a business where I do photography and help small companies with their personal branding. I also absolutely love being a freelance youth coach. It’s exhausting, but it’s me doing exactly what I enjoy most; inspiring young people to be their best, most authentic selves.
Something I’m particularly proud of, is very recently, an education social enterprise reached out for some photography work. At the time they were also advertising a job on Escape. But after some hustling (on my side) and discussions (on their side) they created a new part-time role just for me.
Later this summer I will be in Nepal for 5 weeks, delivering training to school communities that are limited in resources. I’m in control of what work I choose to do and what I choose not to do. My career is an on-going journey and it changes as I change.
It’s so obvious now that this is how my life should look. I love projects; I like the fact that no week is the same, and since escaping, I feel like I am the best version of myself. It gives me comfort knowing that I can change careers whenever I want and that it is perfectly normal to do so.
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