I'm beginning my 4th year of teaching this week and I must admit that it kind of tripped me out at first. I remember being the "baby" of the faculty...just kind of floating along and letting people take care of things for me. Coincidentally much like the same way I lived my life when I was younger and the "baby" of the family. In my first full year at the school I teach at, I was the bubbly, outgoing and eager young teacher - always up for a happy hour and trying to make everyone like me. To a certain extent, I still felt that same "youngness" last year even though it was my 3rd year teaching.
But something in the past year has switched. I've changed...no...I've evolved. Feel free to disagree, but I feel that I have gained a level of maturity about what is important in my life and where my priorities lie. My circle of friends at work has grown smaller, but closer. The number of evenings and nights out has diminished greatly, but yet the contentment and satisfaction in my life has flourished.
I look back on the girl who started teaching 3 years ago and I imagine her as a little girl dressed up in her mother's clothes. I was trying so desperately to figure out my place in the grownup world, but I ended up realizing that you can't "find" your place in the world - you have to create the person you want to be. I feel like I honestly had an awakening in the past year as to what is truly important...
- the fact that a person brought you your favorite meal from Taco Bueno because you sprained your ankle.
- giving kids the benefit of the doubt and showing compassion and concern.
- spending time with the family...thanks to my appendix I remembered how good it feels to just be in my parent's presence (and home cooking!).
- friends that know if you don't talk for awhile it's nothing personal...everybody's life is getting busier but that doesn't mean they don't come running when you need them.
- being myself.
I feel as if I've started another year at the school, but people expect me to be the same crazy girl that I used to be.
Case in point: it was my appendix - NOT a hangover!!! :)
To a certain extent, I'm embarrased of the person that I used to be - because she was completely out of control and incredibly immature. Not to say that I'm not still immature. I can't help but giggle everytime someone says the word "balls," which is unfortunate since I do coach volleyball...
Regardless, there has been a major shift in my outlook, my persona, my interactions with people, my level of commitment, and my priorities.
Wow, you must be thinking. Where did all this come from?
Let me tell you - he's a pretty inspiring person. He has inspired me to completely be myself and cherish who I am. He has challenged me to approach life's sticky and uncomfortable situations with maturity, dignity and grace...yet allowed me a safe place to be completely silly. I haven't CHANGED who I am or what I believe in by any means. I think he's just encouraged me to be my "adult" self.
Of course, there have been other contributors - I couldn't have done it without three very important co-workers. Women who have not too long ago been in my position. All three who have come from entirely different backgrounds, lifestyles and mindsets...yet are all incredibly successful and supportive of my personal growth. I have really looked to them as to how to not only handle the professional world, but find balance and contentment in my personal life as well. I hope that they have seen a growth in me...and I hope they know how grateful I am that they took the time to help me along the way.
It's almost as if I have women in my life showing me along the way of who I am at the present time, ten years down the road or so, and then the ultimate impact I want to leave on the world.
In the present, my personal friends - the ones with whom I shop, eat, drink and lean on. They cultivate the persona that I am right now...and as we get older, we will all mature at more or less the same rate. They almost serve as a mirror as to my position in life - the fears, frustrations, challenges and triumphs of being in your mid twenties. We experience everything together and find our way through this grown up world by leaning on each other.
Then there are my co-workers, most of whom are approximately 5 to 10 years older than me. Generally married and some starting families. They show me my nearest goals - what I want to be in ten years. Married, successful, confident, compassionate, fun....and content with who they are and their place in this world.
And then we come to my mother and grandma. Two women that have had several lifetimes of experience and learning. They embrace life and all it's challenges, quirkiness, irony, gloriousness and beauty. There is no experience that they do not learn and grow from...nor is there one that they haven't endured with grace, dignity and a wry sense of humor. I want to eventually be their age and look back at my life with a triumphant and satisfied smile at the life I have lead.
So...in conclusion...I have a lot of people to be grateful to in my life. More people than could actually fit in this blog at this point in time (I do have to get up early tomorrow!). I can't forget my patient and hard working father, nor my playful and protective big brothers. But those shout outs must come at a later time. I have the youth of America to raise at a VERY early time in the morning.