Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I was cleaning the unfinished area of our basement last night for a project I’ll share with you in a day or two. As I looked around at all the plastic storage tubs, I knew it was time to get rid of the years of teaching materials that I had been saving. I taught high school for 6 years, and it has been almost 11 years since I quit to stay home with my kids.
I felt weird going through it and putting 99% of it in the recycling bin. Every single lesson plan was typed and in a plastic sleeve, then placed in a binder with support materials. I smiled at the memory of specific lessons, specific students, and that challenging yet rewarding stage in my life. It was difficult to let go of all that hard work and save just the memories, but I had to be realistic.
Even if I went back to teaching tomorrow, chances are I’d be teaching different grade levels, different works of literature, with a completely new curriculum. What good were my 100’s of transparencies of model papers and great works of art when they now can be found via the Internet and probably beamed directly into students’ brains? A lot has changed in a decade.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m forgetful. Not forgetful as in losing things, but forgetful of what I have been through and been able to accomplish. I think back to myself in my early 20’s embarking on a teaching career. I must have been scared sh*tless. But there, in black in white, was the proof that I had not just survived, but thrived.
The students were amazing and the lessons were usually pretty good. Sure, I would change some things (what MOM would support giving 15 year old boys 4 novels, including "Wuthering Heights," to read during Summer Break? Aargh. Talk about killing the love of reading), but I’m proud of a lot of it. The teaching materials reminded me that I was an energetic and creative teacher.
The weird thing is that the minute I had my first baby almost 11 years ago (my water broke at 2 a.m. and I never made it to work at 6:30 a.m.) I lost confidence in my ability to teach. Even when I went back to visit a few times, I felt like a fraud-- as if I’d never taught before. I had so quickly forgotten what I could do.
But there is great benefit to remembering. When I started a new part-time job a year ago as the manager of a small bookstore, I was nervous again. This job, while far less stressful than teaching, was completely new to me. I had to remind myself: “I can do new things. I can learn.”
Drawing upon the past helped me take the plunge and try something new, even though I was frightened. I think it was also a great example to my kids. We are always having them try new things: basketball, gymnastics, etcetera, but we need to be brave, too. Now if only I could muster the courage to pursue my dream of becoming a estate agent…
What is it that you need to remember about yourself? Is it that you have been strong? Perhaps you need to remember when you broke away from a destructive relationship or ended a toxic friendship. You still have that strength inside you today.
Maybe you are facing unemployment or underemployment and are too scared to branch out of the comfort zone of a familiar field. Chances are you can remember another time in your life when you had to stretch way beyond what you thought your limits were.
Maybe your husband is working all the time and you don’t think you can handle another 14 hour day alone with your children. Can you think back to an earlier day or stage in life that you thought would never end (say, 7th grade?) but that thankfully, did? If you made it through that, you can make it through this.
Maybe you are lonely and tired of doing this thing called life alone. Remember people you have impacted. The world is a better place because you are in it.
I’m not sure what it is that you are facing today, but I bet there is a challenge before you.
Remember: You can do hard things. You have done hard things. And you will again.
*This is Molly's and my mantra when we need a little boost.