Today is the first day in over a month that I am sans agenda. I have a few random errands that I need to get done, but there is no where to drive, no one to see, no need to dress-up. It feels amazing. Since this is a new blog, I will start with some background. Two weeks ago today, I was walking down the aisle of a small chapel nervously clutching my father’s arm and trying not to pass out from either heat or excitement, both washing over me in continuous waves.
After bachelorette weekends, rehearsal dinners, preparation “parties”, and dancing lessons, it is a bittersweet feeling to be done with it all. I took one full year to plan, though most of it was done during the previous summer. It took less than 24 hours for it to all be over.
Now, though, it is on to new adventures and a different type of planning. In little over a month, Keegan and I will be moving across the country. As I’ve never lived outside the confines of the New York State border, except for a very brief stint in Prague, I feel a constant flux of emotions, mostly morphing between terrified to exhilarated. But that’s what change is, right?
Wikipedia defines change as “the process of becoming different,” and the simplicity of that definition is enough. The process of becoming different. I like who I am, but without growth, what is life anyway? I always try to teach my students that risk is important, and that, without it, there is no growth, no true learning. When I received my acceptance letter to UL Lafayette, the words I push at my students began to push back at me. What am I if not a model for them? How can I stay in my safe little cocoon and then try to teach them to take risk and move outside their comfort zones?
I was cruising through the complex highway systems of the internet blogosphere, as I often do, and stumbled upon Inspiration and Chai: Warmth for the Soul and Body (http://www.inspirationandchai.com). One of Bonnie’s featured articles is titled “Regrets of the Dying,” and it spoke to me in a way that only people at the end of their lives can. #1 on the list of regrets:
‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
I think that “courage” is the operative word here. It is so hard to go against what you, society, your family, your husband, the clerk at the grocery store expect you to do, and what you know you have to do. I’ve been in this place before.
A few years ago, I was excessed from my job as an ESL teacher for middle school students. I was told that the teacher at the elementary school had been part-time for many years, and, therefore, did not have seniority over me. They offered me her job. I have worked in elementary school before, and, as cute as those kids are, it is not my cup of tea to say the least. I knew I wouldn’t be happy there, and I knew that I would carry the guilt of taking something that really doesn’t belong to me, though technically, I guess it did. Taking that job was what people expected me to do. Tenure track jobs, in this educational climate, are rare, and one handed to you on a silver platter is pretty close to unheard of. I turned it down. Instead, I took a maternity leave as a 7th grade ELA teacher. I loved it, and the next year, it turned into a tenure-track job. This year, I received tenure. This fall, I will be living in Louisiana, taking classes for my PhD.
I am following some sort of path, and I have no idea where it will take me. This reminds me of one of my favorite Frost poems. One I just taught to my 7th graders: “The Road Not Taken.” I loved this poem before I even really understood it. On the surface, it seems to be about a person who makes a difficult choice, follows the road that is “less travelled by,” and is all the better for it. A teacher I had in high school asked us if there was any indication that the speaker had a positive experience. There isn’t. The speaker is different: not better, not worse. Because, the truth is, you never know. I don’t know what will happen in Louisiana, but I’m starting to like the unknown, starting to appreciate this “process of becoming different.”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.