I’m driving down the road. It’s eight in the morning and I am heading to an event at the art museum that I’m going to cover as part of my new job. I have the radio on and I’m singing loudly, which is typical. There is nothing particularly special about the moment or the day, but as I’m singing and driving all of the sudden I am overwhelmed. I feel this intense emotion come over me and I am in tears. Yes, I’m a crazy crier, but in the moment I have no idea what on earth is happening. Why I am I crying? Why am I feeling this rush of emotion? I say out loud to myself, “what on earth, get a grip!”
I take a deep breath, regain my composure, and continue down the road. What is going on? What is the motivation behind my emotion. And then I realize, it is happiness, total and complete happiness. I have spoken a lot about my struggles. Whether it be depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, or a billion other things, sometimes I am at odds with myself. But for the first time in a really long time, I feel like myself. It has been way too long. I cannot remember the last time that I really felt like me, and I was overwhelmed. It was miraculous. I think many of us look at our lives and question what we are doing and where we are supposed to be. I know I have on many occasions.
When you have moments where you feel at odds, who is it that brings you back to where you need to be? Who is it that grounds you, and reminds you of your purpose? In my case, it’s “my people.” I pondered and thought about my people. What is it that they do for me? How am I so lucky? You see, I have been trying to figure out what to do with my life for a really long time. I don’t mean in regard to my family, that part is solid. I mean, what can I change to bring more happiness in the day to day? What can I do to feel like I’m making a difference, or better yet that my life has purpose? I am not talking about purpose to help others. As a teacher I think everyday our goal is about helping our students become better humans. I’m talking about personal purpose. I want to feel like I’m utilizing my creativity. I want to write more. I want to wake up and say, “wow, I’m really happy in my work.” I guess everybody wants that, so I’m probably not unique. The difference is you have to decide to do something to change where you are, so you can get to where you want to be. This is where I needed help from my people.
I have been a teacher for over twenty years. It has brought me countless moments of joy. But I promised myself long ago, that if I ever started to lose the joy, it was time to move on. I still smile. I adore my students, and they brighten my day with hugs and love. I do not regret one moment of the time I have spent with them, or with the amazing educators that I have worked with, but something is off. Although I am thrilled with their success, the overall atmosphere has changed. The scope of teaching has changed. When you get to a point where parents who have known you for many years question how you teach, and what you say, it’s no longer an atmosphere that I want to be in. There is no longer respect, and there is no longer reverence for the profession. This does not mean that I am not deeply grateful for the amazing support from the majority of parents who I have worked with, but overall this year has been a struggle. I needed to figure out my next move. Where am I being led? What is the little voice in the back of my head telling me? One thing was sure, it was time for a change.
Starting something new is so scary, I mean curl up in a ball and panic, scary. I don’t care if you’re five or fifty, it is utterly terrifying. Leaving what you have known, and are really good at means taking a big leap of faith. But even bigger, is the leap of faith that those around you have to take. They are saying to you. “It’s ok, I trust that you can do this. I trust that you will be amazing and successful! I trust that all will work out.” Your people believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. They are willing to let you give up money, comfort, and security, to jump off that bridge. Not only do they let you jump, they hold your hand and tell you, it will be alright. They let you know that they think that you are amazing and no matter what, you will succeed.
I don’t know what I have done to deserve this, but I’m here to tell you that “my people” rock. How can I be so lucky to have this kind of support? How can I have friends so dear that they trust not only that I can do a job that I’ve never done, but trust that I will be successful even when I’m learning as I go. I realize that even as a teacher, you get a degree, you student teach, and you are thrust into a classroom with lots of skills, but little practical knowledge. I guess, as with most jobs, you become a master by doing the job day in and day out. But, you cannot take this leap without an amazing support system.
Having a tribe around you that believes in you, allows you to blossom. It solidifies your decision to make a change. It let’s you know that no matter what, they have your back. I’m forty-seven. I’m almost to the point that some call “middle-age.” Yet here I am starting something new. I don’t think that I ever realized I had a choice. I have always done what is the best for others. I chose my job and the direction of my life, because I was worried about my husband’s career and financial security while he was in school. I chose a degree that was convenient. I want to make it very clear, he did not ask for this, nor expect it. He is the most supportive person in my life. I made the choice, me, no one else. I made it out of fear; fear of taking a risk, fear of doing something outside of my comfort zone, fear of failure. I took the path of least resistance, and now here I sit.
I took a path that was where I needed to be at the time, and I’m good with that. I loved that path for a long time. But now it’s time for a new path. This path is just about me. It’s about my creativity being utilized in a new way. It’s about finding out just what the heck I am capable of. It’s about finding myself and seeing myself in a whole new light. Am I terrified? Uh, yep! Am I scared of failure? Of course! But, I’m more frightened of not taking the risk. The thought of not trying something new is far more terrifying than not trying at all. It is MY time. It is time for me to step up to the plate and be in charge of what I want in my life, no one else. You are never too old to start over. You are never too old to take that leap. You are never too old to follow your heart, even if you think it may disappoint the people around you. You are in control of your life, and life is way too short to wait for the next move. Your time is now.
I am eternally grateful for the people in my life that have so much darn faith in me. I’m deeply thankful that they trust me and love me. I hope that many years from now I will look back and still feel the same sense of happiness I feel today. I hope I still feel like ME. My people have truly given me courage that I never knew I had. In the words of L. Frank Baum in The Wizard of Oz, ” You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.” Thank you for letting me see the courage in myself.
So now the journey begins. I’m leaving what I know for the unknown. I’m going to discover what I am capable of. I’m going to forge my own path. Look out world, it’s time to kick some serious ass. I hope you have the courage to do the same.