I never wanted to be an astronaut or police officer when I was younger. I always knew what I become since I was five years old–a teacher.
Three months after my fifth birthday my little sister arrived on the scene. In the very beginning I was jealous of all the attention she was getting and I even got a present the day she was born to pacify me. It was only later, months probably, that I truly came to the realization of having a younger sister. She was my very own doll come to life. I could play with her and teach her everything I knew. Even at a young age I loved learning, it was an equal love to teach my sister the things I learned each day when I got home from school. I wanted to share everything with her (this feeling didn’t last long, sorry Mom). One of my proudest accomplishments to date was “educating” her, she was reading and writing before going to school.
I was a teacher’s pet in elementary school, a dream student. I would finish my work quickly and then help answer questions of fellow students that sat nearby. Later (I think around fifth grade) I would be given more responsibility and the chance to help whomever needed it in our classroom, along with a few other “quick learners”. I was lucky to grow up when I did and teasing and bullying were a rare thing, usually only happening on the playground due to lack of sportsmanship. It wasn’t until I entered high school that I learned to keep my mouth shut and only answer questions when asked directly.
Being a member of math club I was able to get preferential treatment during algebra. I would finish assignments ahead of time and work on other homework, help others, or spend free time reading, etc. A classmate made a remark about the unfairness of the two groups in our math class, something along the lines of the smart group and dumb group. I remember that I never really saw a distinction in our class before until it was pointed out to me. It upset me greatly and since that moment I tried to blend in and not get grouped into a distinct clique. That was one of the first signs that my desired profession could waiver.
Another sign was due to a history teacher and his treatment of the females in his classroom. This teacher did not even try to hide his discrimination. I began to learn that teachers were not always heroes but human too. I finally made the decision to look for a new calling after student teaching in high school. I was able to work with a teacher that my sister praised, one of her favorites from elementary school. It was a tough classroom, walking into an environment where the adult in charge is OCD about most things and doesn’t relinquish control without a fight. I did not enjoy that experience at all because I was basically a gofer and errands were my specialty. The teacher even wrote in my evaluation that I would not make a good teacher. I was crushed.
Jump to after college and a few years of jobs not careers taking over my life when I get the opportunity to teach. I had long ago given up that dream but it was the chance to travel abroad and why not? My best friend is an international teacher and she was able to snag me a job at her school in South America. I was terrified not because I didn’t know the language but what if I failed. What if I didn’t know how to teach? I was thrown to the wolves and became a fourth grade teacher with no idea of what it would entail.
Looking back at my year in South America I am grateful. That experience showed me that I could survive and that teaching is something I enjoy. I had a lot of fun with my students and I also struggled during the school year but overall I think it changed me.
I am still debating on what to do with my life, still working jobs and not toward a career. I want to go to work each day loving what I do and I don’t think I have found that yet. It is such a tough decision to pick an interest and follow it through. I sometimes wish my dreams were more tangible. This feeling of being clueless is terrible, I sometimes wake up and don’t even think I know myself. Right now I’m working on discovering my self as cliche as that sounds. I hope that one day soon I will have that spark again like I did when I was teaching my sister to read and write. Until then I’ll keep on keeping on, living each day with my goals in mind.
what were your childhood aspirations?