|Credit: the internet search for "Mercury Retrograde"|
I realize that the past was not clean, neat, or pain free. I also know that the future also demands different things, causing my own personal evolution, and therefore I simply cannot be static-ever. So, it's not exactly nostalgia that I'm feeling; it's just that I feel the need to self-assess and evaluate my own professional and personal growth and make sure I am not swerving towards some foggy cliff in the near future. I feel like things have gotten a little too wonky to not suspect cliffs.
I've re-read old emails from ASMSA (circa 2006), my application for Teach for America, and emails from my my earliest days of teaching (circa 2011). I've re-read sections from Eat, Pray, Love- a book I vividly remember reading in the winter of 2007-2008. I've been drawn back to books that formed my initial thoughts about education: Teach Like A Champion, Teaching as Leadership, and the big green manual of required readings.
After all of that introspection, I cried- a couple of times, really. I cried because I was both ashamed of the girl I was at ASMSA and because I missed her- I was once someone who was independent enough to leave home at 16 years old, and insecure enough to cling to people. I had meaningful relationships- now, I have obligations. I felt painful twinges of guilt reading my application to Teach for America-where are my fundamental values as a teacher today and do they line up with that application, now five years old-or should they even line up any more? Am I really making an impact in educational equality for all students, not just the ones that pass through my classroom?
Not that there aren't things to celebrate! Of course, in my fourth year of education, things that were once incredibly complicated or strange to me as a new teacher, suddenly make sense to me. I have a new critical understanding of all educational theories, arguments, and texts, including things I once accepted without question. I also have the ability (finally) to have some free time; it's taken four years to reclaim Sundays, to not sleep through the news most evenings, and to not fight semi-regular panic attacks. I have even left school with just one bag on occasion lately.
However, to paraphrase/quote Hairspray, "I'm hungry for something that I can't eat!" Yes, I have miles and miles to go professionally, but I don't want to build my life solely around my professional life, or give up my core values professionally-there has to be some balance. As I consider next steps and next jobs, I don't want to sacrifice my values or abandon the good things about myself. Self-reflection is good-it's just uncomfortable.