LIFE: The Part Where I Was Really Sad
I struggled with what word to put where "sad" is in the title of this segment. I was so many things besides sad when I felt like I was living someone else's life. I was lost, frustrated, confused, angry, scared, and I even had that feeling of homesickness-- that pit in your stomach you only get from missing something real bad, only this time I didn't even know what I missed.
But truth be told, sad is probably the most accurate word for this part of the story, because beneath all those emotions was truly a deep sadness for a life unlived.
There was sadness for potential covered in fear, and so looking back, I can recognize all of those emotions as manifestations of sadness. They were sadness showing up in different forms to tell me, "Hey you, there's more."
So this week, I want to tell you about the part(s) where I was really sad (sub: lonely, scared, frustrated, lost, etc.) and those parts extend beyond my 1-year stint as Madame/Ms. Jordan. I also want to set the record straight on what was so misaligned when I was teaching, because in my hyper-awareness of how my situation & choices are perceived by others, I fear being viewed as a "quitter," a millennial who didn't want to work so ran home to mommy and daddy.
That's far from the truth, so let's dig into that while we're here.
First, if you think I taught French, you only know exactly 1 fifth of the story. I taught French for 45 minutes 5x/week, and while I mostly gave the easy version to people who asked ("I'm a French teacher") a single preposition changed everything. I didn't really teach French. I taught in French.
I taught French immersion, which means I was teaching Math, Science & Social Studies in French, and because I'm also a native English speaker, I also taught English. In case you lost count, that's 5 subjects/day, and in case that means nothing to you-- it's a lot.
I say this not to boast or whine or complain, but simply to inform. I don't think I was quite in the same box as a 3rd grade Math teacher. One subject on my plate would have completely changed my workload, attitude and certainly my sleep schedule. I truly only say this to put the full story out there.
French immersion at my school also meant translating about 99% of the resources I had, because I had no textbooks, worksheets, workbooks or guides in French, and the parents of my students were expecting their children to learn in French, so sending home work in English was pretty much out of the question.
It also meant feeling like the most inadequate person for the job just about every day. I was back and forth between the 4th grade teacher's room multiple times a day for advice on how to explain place value en français, and get translations for things like the story of the pilgrims or Newton's 3 Laws. Many terms don't translate, and because no French 10 year old is learning about the colonization of America, there are absolutely no resources on-level to pull from. I was so awkward up there in front of 22 kids trying to explain things I:
a) barely understood (seriously, what's mitosis?) and
b) just learned the words for 10 minutes ago.
Suffice it to say, the labor of teaching was half the battle, but the other half was all of my paint supplies gathering dust, all of my half-written blog posts (I had no blog at the time, only an imaginary one) and poems on post-it notes or worse-- trapped in my head. I felt like I had put "Creative Emily" in a jar on a shelf and had to just look at her, unused and unhappy, daily.
That was sad. Very sad.
My weekends were spent grading papers, making powerpoints, formatting worksheets and making new seating charts (a very unexpected time-sucker.) And all of these in and of themselves are not particularly sad or bad. What was sad and bad for me, though, was that I was daily saying "no" to pieces of me that desperately wanted (needed) to come alive.
"No, Writer Emily, not now."
"No, Artist Emily, not today."
"No, Helping Emily, no time for that."
"No, Funny Emily, no jokes now."
"No, Curious Emily, Passionate Emily, Lively Emily, Knowledgeable Emily..."
Only Teacher Emily was out and about, and with her came Serious Emily, Doubtful Emily, Self-Conscious Emily, Tired, Scared, Confused Emily.
This brings me back to the entire point of telling this story, the entire point of my work, my brand, my message: saying "no" to who you are, denying yourself a life in which you honor all the pieces and versions of you is to cop out.
It's to sell yourself short.
It's to hide behind fear.
Most importantly, it's to also deny others the opportunity to be their best selves, because you have not chosen to elevate yourself.
Making the bold choice to honor who you are, to blur the line between who you are and what you do-- it's not a selfish act. When we choose to honor ourselves, we also choose a life that allows others to do the same, and that's what the world needs more of: people who are themselves.
It was (and still is) a great challenge for me many days, but I hope that you see this as your invitation to join the challenge as well: HONOR who you are. SHOW UP as you as much as you can, as scary as it is, so that you can end the part of your story where you're really sad.
Thanks again for reading. My story is so important to me, but more than that, it's important to you because we each have a story, and we each have a part where we're sad. What's your story?