In January 2015 I was working as a high school teacher working in a small town in Northumberland, England. I rented a small terraced house in a small market town. I was not miserable or depressed because I had plenty of things to be grateful for, but I remember feeling a strong sense of dissatisfaction and sharp feeling of disillusionment. I had moved to England about six months earlier due to the shortage of teaching positions in Canada. I chose the United Kingdom because the employment situation there was the exact opposite of the one that existed and still exists in Canada. At that point, I had worked as a high school teacher for about a decade, mostly in New York City, but I had no desire to return to the US. The move to the UK was a final attempt to keep my career afloat, but it took less than three months of working in England for me to realize that I needed to get out of teaching high school altogether.
This was not an easy realization to come to terms with - after all, I had a family to support. My little boy was only three at the time and my wife was a stay-at-home mom. My writing brought in barely any income and I did not know what other work I could do or pursuit I could follow. Unsure of what to do, I decided to get over my fear and misgivings and completely reinvent myself.
I spent a month or two sorting through my life, making priorities, analyzing what I was doing well, and pondering what I needed to improve and change. This was not an easy process. The level of self-analysis and contemplation I engaged in during that time was both invogorating and terrifying. Regardless, I had one goal: to order my life in way that better reflected my true self. I was tired of the compromises I was making, tired of the lies I was was enduring, tired of the mediocrity I was tolerating. By the end of February, I had my priorities in order and my goals set. They were as follows:
1. Quit teaching high school.
2. Find meaningful work.
3. Make more money.
4. Buy a house.
5. Open a business.
6. Get back to writing.
7. Put the family at the center of everything. Be a good father and husband.
Three years have passed since I vowed to reninvent myself. So, how have I done?
1. I quit teaching high school in March 2015 and now work as an instructor in two universities in Europe - one in Hungary and one in Austria. My work week is about 20 hours. I no longer have to endure behaviour problems, sjw ideology, ridiculous workloads, unrealistic expectations, testing pressures, etc. For the first time in years, I actually enjoy teaching again. I will never go back to teaching high school again. Perhaps I will go into more detail about why in a future post.
2. I teach English and also work as an editor/peer-reviewer at one of my jobs. I especially enjoy my editing/reviewer role because it allows me to work with language on a daily basis. This helps me become a better writer and editor - experience I can apply to my own writing. I am appreciated and valued for my skills and work ethic.
3. I make about the same amount of money I did in England or Canada, but I am able to save more which, in essence, is the equivalent of making more as far as I am concerned. Thankfully, I have no debt whatsoever, so my financial pressures are few.
4. We moved to Hungary in March 2015 and bought a house in a small village outside Sopron almost exactly one year later. The real estate prices in Hungary are considerably lower than in North America and western Europe; thus, I was able to buy my house for cash and I am mortgage-free.
5. I founded and operate a small language services company a couple of years ago. I have made a modest side income from it since and it seems set to really take off in the next six to eight months. In the past two years I have translated a book, countless articles as well as some inscirptions on statues and monuments.
6. I have started working on my new novel Fallen Men after more than four years of not writing anything at all.
7. My son is now six, loves our new home, and is growing up to be a healthy, happy, and ambitious little guy. My wife is comforted by the fact that we own our home outright and have zero debt. She is looking to return to the workplace on a part-time basis. I keep my focus on my family and always put them first, regardless of what is going on other areas of my life.
Though the reinvention I embarked upon is still very much in progress, I am amazed by everything that has transpired since I made the decision to change my life and sort myself out.
Incidentally, Invent Yourself and Reinvent Yourself has proven to be one of my most popular blog posts, having received several thousand hits since January 2015. To give some sense of perspective, most of my posts get only fifty or sixty views in total and some get even fewer!
I imagine some of the views come from Bukowski fans or those looking for the poem No Leaders Please, but I also suspect there are many people out there who find themselves in the same kind of situation I found myself in nearly three years ago. Perhaps these people are looking for inspiriation or encouragement or motivation in order to make the changes in their lives they know they need to make.
If people do read the post for that reason, I can offer the following advice - if you feel the need to reinvent yourself, do it, but do it responsibly, and do it in pursuit of the good. Don't abdicate responsibility when you reinvent yourself, but take on larger, greater responsibilities. Don't initiate wrong action when you reinvent yourself, but pursue the good. Be honest when you reinvent yourself. Stop lying to yourself and commit to those aspects of life you know you need to commit to. Focus on the high rather than the low. Be fearless, but not foolhardy.
As Bukowski wrote:
reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
and the present
belong only to
If you reinvent yourself properly, the universe will not only acknowledge your reinvention, but will also support and legitmize it.
Thus, if you feel poised to reinvent yourself, all I can tell you is - do it - but do it properly.