Right before I got married, I went to work for Disney.
Best. Decision. EVER!
I worked on Space Mountain, and I learned so much about everything during that internship. I was far from home, and didn’t know anyone. I learned about professionalism, and hard work. I learned about performance outside of a theater. Most of all, I learned what it’s like to be passionate about your work.
When you work for Disney, you really have to buy into the magic of what you’re doing. Every day, you go to work thinking about the customer and the experience you’re helping to create. The hours can be odd, especially if you’re doing the college program. It would be easy to dislike the job if you can’t suspend belief and create magic. Every person matters, and every ounce of effort is important, even if it’s unnoticed.
On one of my rare days away from “the Mountain”, I’d gone into the parks and met a few princesses. I’d eaten delicious pineapple goodness, and then I had to go grocery shopping. After getting what I needed, I stopped at Subway for dinner. I guess some of the magic of the day rubbed off on my interaction with the gentleman making my sandwich. As he was ringing up my sandwich, he said:
“You work for The Mouse, don’t you.”
I’m sure that man had seen every Disney cast member in the park. He knew we were all a little over-the-top. But for some reason it really struck me that my work was rubbing off on my personal life. I was completely proud to be recognized as a Cast Member based on my personality. As I’ve thought and thought about that experience, I’ve tried to figure out why it meant so much to me to be recognized. And I think I’ve figured it out.
I was passionate about what I was doing. I loved Disney and all that they stood for (I cried during our first day of training because I was so excited.) Even on the bad days, when I focused on “making magic”, the day wasn’t that bad. I worked harder because I loved it. I took better care of myself because I wanted to go to work. It was incredible. Space Mountain was (and is) absolutely fantastic, but running a roller coaster is not completely dissimilar from a fast food job. There are a lot of people. There is a lot of standing. It’s all about customer service. It’s loud. You say a lot of the same things over and over again, and sometimes people are very unhappy. I’ve worked fast food. I did not feel passionate about it. Not by a long shot. So why was Space Mountain so different? The difference was the magic and the passion I had for the magic.
Now. Teaching. When I started teaching in a classroom, I found much of the same magic. I love watching students learn. There is magic in seeing someone “get it”. I love theater (what I was teaching). The theater is full of magic! There were a lot of things that I could be passionate about, but there were a lot of things that I could not. I was poorly trained, and unprepared for a classroom. I didn’t like the politics and the planning. The hours were long, and unforgiving. I was burnt out before I’d even begun. Although I could find things to be passionate about, I wasn’t in love with my job. There was a drastic difference in my level of commitment.
After I finished student teaching, I went back to fast food. When we moved, I got a substitute teaching license, and there were good days and bad. But I saw the way teachers were treated. I saw their struggles. All of it reaffirmed the things that I’d seen while I was student teaching, and none of it made me want my own classroom, at least, not within my district. I knew that if I saddled myself with the responsibility of running a classroom, it would destroy my love for teaching. It didn’t help my motivation that I had a baby girl at home.
But how sad! Here I’d spent years working toward a degree. I had (and still have) thousands of dollars worth of debt! I started to think that maybe I’d wasted my time on my degree. I was going to have to start over with something else. And what on earth did I actually want to do?? What was going to give me time with my family? I needed another Disney. I needed something that didn’t feel like a sacrifice to get out of bed for, and bonus points if I could stay home with my baby to do it.
VIPKID changed everything. The moment I got my first student, I was hooked. I was helping people again. I could see these little kids “getting it” and understanding from all the way on the other side of the world! There is magic again! I get to be creative, and excited, and childish, and sparkly. I get to be ME! All the things that aren’t great about the job (the hours) melt away because I’m completely in love with the students. I found a job that I can be passionate about again!
Being passionate doesn’t mean that it’s never hard. There was a day at Disney where I sat outside and cried because I was so tired. The same has happened to me with VIPKID. It happens to everyone in every job ever created. But when you have passion for your work, it’s easier to want to come back after a break.
So tell me about your mild (or not) obsession! What are you passionate about? Parenthood? Mountain climbing? Crochet? Disney? I want to read your soapboxes too. <3