Smiles were tough to come by today, even with everyone dressed up in their finery for Halloween. “Did you dress up?” Yes, I did. “What were you?” I was a person, and thus the correct question is “Who were you?” I decided to go as Elizabeth Bennett, the beloved heroine of Pride and Prejudice. I had all the required elements already, and I knew it would be fairly comfortable, and all English teachers should dress up as literary characters whenever they get the chance, so there you go.
Picture of me, Streetmate, OP, and Dr. P from class this afternoon (edited for anonymity). You know my costume, and Snow White’s obvious, but OP is Grammaticus and Dr. P is Modernism. You’d have to be an English geek to find that amusing.
Picture of mini pumpkins, also from class this afternoon. We all decorated one. Guess which one is mine…
That all said, it was still a tough day. School this morning was just very disheartening. My kids were not so courteous in study hall first period, which I was supervising. Then my CT and I discovered that grading their most recent tests 1) took way longer than we’d been expecting, and 2) was extremely depressing, as many of them were barely passing. (Though, to be fair, this was the written portion of the test; most kids did very well on the multiple choice.)
From school, I headed to my second therapy session… and I burst into tears.
From therapy, I headed to meet with my academic director… and I burst into tears.
And from that meeting, I headed to class early to talk to my professor… and I burst into tears.
Tears were a common theme of the day, unfortunately.
Moving backwards in time, yesterday started out much better than today, though ended up similarly. My supervisor came to observe me teaching a lesson, and the lesson went well and the debrief was positive. I got my work done in time for afternoon class, and class was generally interesting. Then I got home and WHAM! Within minutes I was curled up in a ball on the corner of my bed sobbing like a baby. My stomach was much too knotted up to allow for food, so I headed to campus to work on an assignment for class this afternoon. Said assignment progressed very slowly, as do most assignments these days, given that my attention span is about equal to that of a brain-damaged
He told me I sparkle. That’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me. He also got me thinking a lot about my future and how I view it now, as opposed to how other people might (and do, in his case) view it.
Once upon a time – let’s say, oh, I don’t know, sophomore year of college – I had no idea where my life was going. I mean, I knew I was going to graduate at some point, but I didn’t know what my major was, what kind of job I would want to get, whether I would want to go to graduate school, etc. I had no idea when or to whom I would be married, where I would be living in five years, or how I would find my way in the world. This is not uncommon for college students – to not know where their lives are headed – so it is not strange that I didn’t know where my life was going. The strange thing is this: I was okay with that.
There was a time, not so long ago, when having my future in doubt was okay. There was a time when I was perfectly content to trust that I would figure things out when I needed to. There was a time when blank pages in the Book of Lara were completely acceptable.
But then I filled those pages, figured things out, and set my future. And for a good three years or so, I’ve known exactly where my life was going, and where I would be and what I would be doing for the next five, ten, twenty years of my life. There were no holes – or very few, at any rate – no blanks, no question marks. And there was no fear. I knew where I was headed, and I was happy with that, and the world was good.
Now, suddenly I find my set-in-stone future ripped to shreds, and all that remains is a big black hole, gaping in front of me like the mouth of a great beast waiting to devour me whole. Suddenly I look to my options and find an impassable sea of uncertainty between me and solid, rational, makes-sense land. Suddenly I try to picture my future and I see… nothing.
So what happens now? Where am I going to?
How do I find that girl again, the girl who saw an empty future as possibilities, rather than dead ends? How do I regain the security and faith I once had, the belief that everything would work out in due time? How do I convince myself that not knowing is – really and truly is – okay?