Who am I? Generally, I reserve this question for my kids as I push them to discover not only who they are now but also who they wish to be. And, then, once they progress in their journeys and gain some clarity, I inform them that they know nothing, and they must start again, for the answer to the question is one that we never really fully grasp, the road winds on and we again chase ourselves, a path without end. And because I tend to focus on my kids and forget myself, I am always surprised when I remember that I, too, am on the chase, but unfortunately, by the time this registers, I have fallen behind and it’s too late, and I am lost.
Twenty years in, and twenty to go, I find myself in a strange land, the map hard to read. And whether it’s a sense of destiny or a crisis at mid-career, I am of a mind that something is supposed to happen. Of course, as with most flights of fancy, it is probably more imagined than real, but of late my wandering leads to me wonder. Please know that it was not my intent to step into the metaphysical muck this morning, but as I feel around and try to find my way, I cannot deny that there are forces conspiring to make me choose a path. Paths in the end that essentially boil down to that which is neither spectacular nor profound, a choice between what I want to do and what I feel obligated to do. Indeed, nothing sensational.
Obligation. So for nearly my entire career, going all the way back to Royal Middle School and a Gates’ Foundation grant, I began taking on leadership responsibilities outside my classroom. It was a path that I never intended to follow, but it was a path on which I could easily navigate and effectively lead. And, as it goes, way leads to way, and I have stayed on this path taking on even greater tasks and roles, moving forward finding more–truly, opportunities without end. For some time, it was thrilling, an invigorating addition to my career, and before I knew it, I was addicted. I sought out such positions, thinking I was a necessary component, and in my confidence–more aptly, my arrogance–I began to lose myself to my addiction. For years I denied it, and when the going got tough–leading is no walk in the park–I got tougher, tightened up laces and kept walking. And eventually, the path became inescapable. And I don’t think it was arrogance alone that put me there. I believe, or want to believe that is was also out of obligation. I, even now, am tortured by the idea of letting people down, of disappointing those who have come to depend on me. But now, at this crossroad, I believe I am ready to step from the path. I’m just not sure I have the courage to chase that which I desire, leaving that which I have been familiar with and faithful to for so long.
Desire. What do I want? It’s really rather simple. I just want to teach. I just want to be teacher Syrie. I don’t want to be department-chair, committee-member, literacy-leader, the-list-goes-on Syrie. But even now as I say it and make it real by making it public, I have a knot in my gut, an ethereal doubt in my mind, haunting me, taunting me, telling me I can’t do it.
Alas, I am lost. Maybe stuck. And though I thought writing about it this morning would help me, I am afraid that I’ve only made it worse. Who am I, indeed?
Sorry for the strange post this morning, all. Have a great Tuesday.