You nailed it. I definitely left for change. I miss the students some days, but now at the end of the work day I get to go home at a reasonable hour and be with my husband, enjoy some free time, and not feel so drained I can barely move. I’m also no longer in an environment where people are always commenting on my performance, assessing where I failed, and pointing out where I could be so much better. Feedback is necessary for improvement, but after a certain point that feedback becomes nothing more than a constant stream of criticism and not everyone (I include myself here.) can handle that environment. In short, I needed a change from an environment that, for me, had become so toxic that my health–physical, mental, and emotional–was suffering to an environment that works for my introverted personality and my need to have freedom to explore. I sometimes feel guilty for leaving teaching, for giving up on a career I believe is incredibly important to our country’s future, but then I remember how I felt toward the end of my final year in the classroom: drained, exhausted, frustrated. I couldn’t have been a phenomenal teacher if I wasn’t actually up to the task of giving everything teaching required of me every day I walked into my classroom. And so I at least take some solace in knowing I’m in a place and job that works for me and gives me the freedom to explore something in depth and use creativity, which had been lost during my time in the classroom, to do a job I’m made to do. Some day, when I have kids, I’ll thank my kids’ teachers from the bottom of my heart because I know what it means to do that job and how much teachers sacrifice to be their best for their kids. It wasn’t the right place for me, but for some people it’s a calling, and I truly believe they deserve to be thanked often for being an important part of our country.