Ten years ago today I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. I had finished the 9th grade, and I had been truly inspired. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing English teacher who showed me that we could read books and find real-life applications while reading. Not only did I become more passionate about reading and writing, but I was encouraged and inspired by this teacher. I wanted to reach young people the way my teacher did. Unfortunately education has changed quite a bit since I was in the 9th grade. Even if I wanted to do exactly what he did, I simply couldn't for many reasons.
For starters we are different people with different personalities, talents, and flaws. All that aside, the world of education is simply not what it used to be. When I set out to be a teacher, I had no idea what all would be involved. Sure I knew there would be loads of paperwork. Did I under estimate how much? Totally! BUT I had been prepared for that. On the other hand, there were some things I was not at all prepared for. No one told me there were teachers out there that were malicious snakes-in-the-ground always in competition with other teachers. No one told me about the spineless administrators who are controlled by parents who refuse to allow their children to make mistakes, suffer the consequences, and learn valuable lessons. I could go on, but I won't. This is not the intention of this blog. More upsetting than all those things is that no one told me about the fact that there are teenagers who simply don't want help. They do not want someone to help them better their lives. They have been raised in a culture that not only accepts and expects, but also praises settling and handouts. They look for the easy way out at all costs. They do not want to be challenged. If no one had ever challenged me, I would not have the life I have today. I am so grateful for the life I have. I am thankful I had people who challenged and pushed me to try harder and to never give up on my dreams.
My dreams.... I guess that is what brought me to blog today. For the past 10 years, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. Unfortunately my idea of what a teacher is has been altered. I had some really great students. I loved coming up with creative ways to teach them. I loved getting to know them and trying my best to encourage them. I loved reading their journal entries, essays, and research papers. I loved watching them think, question, and discuss. I loved the friends I made with some kind, creative, and thoughtful teachers. I loved prom, football games, my scholar's team, and basketball games. I just worry that all the things I love about teaching are being pushed aside. I started to feel like I was simply a data collector. Instead of being interested in the debates, classroom discussions, and learning my students were doing, the people above me were more concerned that my room was a little messy. I wanted to teach young people how to be productive citizens and how to be a contribution to society and not a liability. That is simply not possible when students are rarely held accountable for their wrong doings. I recently began to wonder if I chose teaching because it was practical and traditional. This had me worried.
I am now on a mission to figure out what I am to be doing with my life. Who am I? Where would my skills and abilities best be applied. I want so much to give back because so much has been given to me. I want more than anything to make a difference. I do not say this lightly. It is something that is constantly on my mind. I think this is why I had such high expectations for my students. If we all realized how blessed we are and wanted to give back and put others first, we could actually make this a better world. Now do I mess up? Do I get selfish? Do I get lazy? Yes. I am completely flawed just like every other human. BUT I want so much to be better. I want so much to help those who feel lost and forgotten. I thought a good place for that would be a school. I just don't know if I was right anymore. Between government researchers, parents, administrators, and malicious teachers who do not care about actually preparing young people to be responsible, productive adults who can handle good and bad situations I just don't know if a school is the place for me. I do know what I am good at. I am good at observing and reading people. I am good at finding different ways to look at things. I am good at writing. I am good at reading and discussing books. I am good at expressing my thoughts. I am good at making people feel comfortable. I am good at planning. I am good at being decisive. I have a good work ethic. I am good at reflecting. I am good at researching. I am good at improvising. Listing these things is not about how amazing I am; it's about me knowing what I am good at. There is an even longer list of things I am not good at, but that list does not help me figure out who I am.
My plan for this summer is to do some soul searching, researching, and discovering of who I am so that I will know what I should be doing. I was given certain abilities, and I want to use those abilities to make a difference in this world. I want my contribution to be the best it can be. I want to reach my full potential. While I realize I won't figure out all the answers to all of the questions in my life, I can certainly begin today trying to figure out where I am needed. I want to serve. I want my life to mean something. I look forward to discovering who I am and who I can be with hard work and determination.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I recently had the pleasure of reuniting with some good friends a few weeks ago, and we had some great conversations. One belief we agreed on was that there is nothing more valuable than the relationships we form with other people. It is a great challenge that should be accepted by all. The ability to connect, share, listen, and learn from other humans sets us apart. It took me 26 years, but I have finally learned what a good friend is. It was a hard lesson to learn, because I wanted to believe that everyone values friendship the way I do. Unfortunately that simply is not true.
I have some truly great friends. I am thankful for these people more than I think I can humanly convey to them. I do try to let them know how much they mean to me, and I like to let them know I am thinking of them. I think that is important. It is important to stop what one is doing and let one's friend know that they are loved and missed. One big lesson I have learned is that friends are not only friends when it is convenient to be friends. We actually had some people in our lives that we called friends who used us for TV because they didn't have cable. This actually went on for a few months. As soon as they moved and got cable, they all of a sudden stopped coming over and didn't even return text messages. Needless to say we have not seen them in about 6 months. For a while I was very sad. Then I decided to realize what I do have. I have some friends in my life that even though they do not live in Dothan they care about me and I care about them. It is actually a two-way street. I let them know when I am thinking of them, and they let me know when they are thinking of me. We have things in common. We listen to each other. We share advice and experiences with each other. We are not friends only when it is convenient or only when we see each other. We are friends everyday of the year. We accept each other for who we are. We share some of the same beliefs. We include each other in our lives. AND one of the most important things to me is that we are not in competition with each other.
It took me 26 years to realize that competition is one of the issues I have had with friendship. One of my guy friends actually pointed it out. When a bunch of us reunited a few weeks ago I was sad that I didn't have that many friends that are girls. I talked with him about high school and college friends, and he pointed out that in his observation of women we can be too competitive with one another. This totally made sense. I realized that most of my friends were Michael's guy friends because I could be myself around them. Isn't that funny? I also became very thankful that since college I have met and befriended a couple of ladies that I completely connect with. We do not even have to live in the same town, and we are there for each other. I know that if I need them for any thing, they will respond and help me in the best way they can. Not only am I thankful for these ladies in my life, but I have become more appreciative of what God gave several years ago. I guess he completed the gift almost 18 years ago. That gift came in 5 individual packages. I am so thankful for my brothers and sisters. I want to cultivate a stronger relationship with them. I know that I can trust them with anything. I hope they think the same way. I am so proud of the young men and women they are becoming. I thank my God for entrusting them to my parents and therefore sharing them with me. I know I have not always been the best example, but I am trying to better my life everyday so that I can be a leader for them. While it was not an easy lesson to learn, I know that I can not give up on making friends. I know that I have so much to be thankful for. I have an amazing husband, family, and friends that God has blessed me with. I look forward to how God will use us in each other's lives in the future. True and healthy relationships should truly be treasured. I know that I am very grateful for the friends that I have in my life.