The reaction to my previous post was overwhelming to me, in a good way. Many of the comments gave me some good insight. I’ve felt a little selfish thinking I would just keep to myself. Some folks readily recognized my dilemma and chimed in about feeling like they didn’t fit in either. Perhaps our society espouses incorrect ideals, I don’t know.
Having taught high school for a quarter of a century, I know I saw it for what it is: a very competitive, high pressure-filled four years. But I also saw many kids unafraid to walk their own paths and I admired them. I saw many kids cowed by the desire to belong. I saw many kids loving life and their friends. I saw many kids under incredible burdens. And in the end, I saw myself in most of them…and wishing I’d had the courage to have been true to myself in those days.
During my life when faced with challenges those close to me have often remarked, “Treat yourself like one of your students. What would you tell one of them?” I knew the answer immediately; however, it never applied to me. My students mattered. And there you have it. In this age of “all lives matter,” one of them doesn’t in my mind’s eye. Yes, yes, the intellectual part of me knows this is very wrong. But those of us who have lived what I have lived understand the intellectual response isn’t always absorbed by the emotional part of us.
Still, I’m confident knowing that I mattered to many of my former students and to those individuals who have reached out to me in the last few days. That’s meant more to me than I can even begin to describe.
I still laugh readily and am able to get others to laugh. I enjoy a meaningful and interesting conversation and am thankful I’m able able to talk on many levels. If you happen to see me, my face and eyes will tell you everything you need to know.