I am currently working as an English teacher in a not-so-famous private institution in Jambi city. I teach students from various levels of school; from Elementary to Senior High School. This is not actually my first time working, but it is my first initial experience working for 'money'.
I was an English teacher too back in 2014, but it was just a volunteerism. I worked in order to get a cost reduction for my TOEFL courses fee. Luckily, my TOEFL-aspiring teacher agreed and let me to work in his institution for 4 consecutive months. I, then, decided to stop due to a tremendously hectic schedule in school.
Two months before my graduation I got accepted in my current workplace and signed a contract to work for 6 months. As this was my first time actually working for money, I read the contract in a slight, careless glance without paying close attention to the pros and cons of this contract may actually bring. My first thought was that: "Does not matter if the salary is low, as long as you get the experience". I thought everything is going to be okay, until I finally start my weeks of working in a constant depression and anxiety.
I do love my job as a teacher. I love teaching. In fact, meeting my students and have an unnecessary chit-chat with them during class has become a happy potion in curing my current sadness. I start to love children, knowing I used to hate them before. Despite those happy experiences, can you guess what thing that actually bugs in my mind?
Yes, the thing that I thought was the least thing I would want to consider in looking for a job! The reality is... I was wrong. Salary is one of the most important consideration if you want to be able to work happily and effectively. The low salary is one of the thing that puts me under pressure. My salary is not an equal balance between the amount of money I spent for transportation, foods, my energy, let alone my knowledge. My salary per month is only Rp 300.000+ (around $23/month). I thought that amount was okay, I thought experience was more important. But why would you want to choose to get only one of them, if you could have both? In addition to my unsupportive boss, handling the gruesome children who ignore my rules have been putting me in constant stress and sadness.
I do not feel any regret in choosing this job, I just feel a little... unsatisfied. I know my potential, I know I could do more, and I believe I can have more and something better in the future. I just have to be patient enough to get through this.
Despite the current downside and understatement of my surrounding toward the earnings of my job, I try to see this experience in a rather positive perspective. By being paid in such a low salary, I learn to spend my money wisely. I learn to appreciate the value of money. That every rupiah of it is very valuable and requires a lot of work and energy. I learn to be grateful with my job, and give my very best effort and potential in accomplishing any kinds of challenge every day. I learn to work/teach with my heart, giving my students the very best knowledge I have been learning for years. I learn to hide my sadness and dissapointment in front of my students and work professionally. Those positivities have finally brought me a festive appreciation: I was selected as the Best Teacher! The selection was scored based on the quality of my teaching and the achievements of my students in the class. The majority of teachers in the institution are English Education graduates, and I was so happy I could be more. The gift was not that important to me, but the appreciations from my students, my boss and the teachers in the institution was something that I regard as 'priceless'. This achievement could be my stepping stone in reaching something better in the future.
Even though I was paid low, got laughed at by my family, this experience has taught me so many important and valuable lessons: 1. To be patient, 2. To always do my best, 3. To be grateful, and 4. To work professionally and wholeheartedly. The lesson I might not be able to learn if I worked in such a big, famous company/institution that offers high salary. The skills and attitude I gain from this experience can help me tackling future challenges that might get harder and harder as I am going further in my career.