“Change is hard, but change is good,” said one of my dearest friends Brittney. And in that moment, I realized why I have felt uneasiness and tension in the past year. It’s not because I’m unhappy at my new job, with my new husband, or in my new stage of life. It’s been hard because it’s been new. And new means different. These next series of posts will empower and encourage you and me alike to revel in the changes of life.
(Disclaimer: I am aware of my public platform and that the Internet is for all eyes, for always. So, I never share anything in this space that I would not want my students, their parents, or my colleagues to read or see.)
In preparing for my current career, my heart was brimming with hope, possibility, and all of the other idyllic, raw conversations and insights to be had with my future class. Dreams were endless, ideals were at an all-time high.
I will follow up that statement by saying that I have had several moments that reflect pre-teacher Meagan. However, I will follow up that follow up by saying that any parent, teacher, or human who has spent much time around children or education would be the opposite of surprised when I say that my heart has brimmed with quite the opposite for several more moments than I would have guessed.
So, yes, there has been a change in my schedule, in my location, and my job status. These things have been an adjustment and a change. But, there is a deeper, greater change happening within me and maybe it’s been happening to you too.
The encouragement that I see from this change that I experienced from student intern to THE REAL DEAL is a call for realistic expectations. My career lends especially to unrealistic self expectations for a professional perfectionist, people pleaser like myself.
I began teaching because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to empower kids to see that their value, creativity, and personalities can take them anywhere they want.
There are moments where I look across my classroom and I feel like I’m doing exactly that. But, there are also moments where I look into the eyes of a child and quietly know that I can’t fix what is happening in their world. We see the world with all of its’ tragedy, heartbreak, brokenness, trauma, and abuse. Especially in working with kids, we want to step in and make it all go away. Do whatever it takes to make their lives easier. But, we can’t. We can’t undo what’s already been done. We can’t take away all of life’s problems.
For the first time in my life, I’ve been faced with the reality that:
- I can not be all things to all people. I am a teacher, friend, and supporter. I am not a therapist, doctor, or personal savior.
- I do not actually have to please every single person that crosses my path. I am kind, empathetic, and human. I will go beyond what is expected of me to help where I can. But, I am not a doormat, an enabler, or a yes-man. Loving others in the deepest sense of the word does not always mean making them walk away happy.
Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that I don’t try. I can do my job and fulfill my role with the highest passion and excellence, but at the end of the day, I do not hold the power to solve the problems of the world, particularly the problems of my students that go beyond me.
All I can do is what I can do. Be present. Be a light in their lives shining on the good and pointing out the best parts of them. Be funny. Create joy. Smile. Laugh a lot. Dance a lot more than is socially acceptable. Tell jokes. Take a moment to break down my teacher persona and answer silly questions on whether I would rather be chased by zombies or be stomped on by dinosaurs.
All I can do is what I can do. All you can do is what you can do.
What are some areas of your life where you feel like unrealistic expectations are placed on you by yourself or by others?