Dear Annie: I am in my 20s and working multiple jobs. A few years ago, I began substitute teaching at the elementary school in the town I grew up in. For about two years, I filled in for many teachers and even worked long term a few times, but I was never a permanent employee at the school. It was fun connecting with the kids, and I even ate lunch with one student regularly after being his aide for a few weeks. Additionally, I worked as a supervisor for the school's summer day care program.
I aspired to work there full time but was not hired, despite interviewing multiple times. I decided I just needed a break from substitute teaching, so I did not go back until late in the year, and when I did, the classes I had were anything but fun. I tried to reconnect with the student I had lunch with, but his teacher would not permit me to do that again, despite thanking me for doing it previously.
I was so hurt after all of this that I decided to give up on teaching. Now I find myself missing the kids, and I want to get back to helping them do their best. But after this series of rejections, seeing the dark side of working with children and being away for so long, I find myself afraid to go back. A place I once enjoyed now makes my stomach turn when I think of going there. How do I conquer this fear and get over these disappointments? -- Feeling Like a Failure
Dear Feeling Like a Failure: You applied to one teaching job, and you made it to the final round of the interview process. In my view, that's a win. Ask the folks who interviewed you whether they would be willing to provide some feedback. I'm not sure what your education level is, but it's possible that you need to complete additional schooling to be a viable candidate.
Today's job market is highly competitive, and hardly anyone gets the first job he or she applies to. You're probably going to have to apply to lots more, and that's OK. If teaching is what you really want to do -- it sure seems as if it is -- then you won't be happy until you've given it everything you've got.
Dear Annie: My dear neighbor "Susie" and I attend the same exercise class twice a week. She wants to alternate who drives to the class, but neither she nor her husband is a good driver. He has vision problems and had an accident, and she is a nervous driver, as well as a nervous passenger, calling out whether it is OK to proceed at an intersection. I really don't want her to be the driver. How do I diplomatically tell her that I would prefer to drive or meet her at exercise classes without hurting our relationship? -- Perturbed Passenger
Dear Perturbed Passenger: People tend to get defensive about their driving skills, so you'll need to sugarcoat this bitter pill as heavily as you can. Bring it up at a calm time, not when you're in the car together, and present the issue as being more about you (e.g., "I get carsick easily if I'm not driving") than her. Tell her you'd prefer driving to the classes. If she reacts poorly, give her time to cool off, and start driving on your own. You cannot continue riding with unsafe drivers simply out of guilt.
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