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Lost: Morning Minutes, March 8, 2016

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.




6 Replies to “Lost: Morning Minutes, March 8, 2016”

  • Yes!!! I have been a witness to your struggles since the very beginning and KNOW how much of yourself you have given to others in education, besides your students, over time. I think you are at the end of this serving-outside -of-the-school-day chapter of your professional life and ITS OKAY. Maybe another chapter is about to begin for you/us…but you won’t have time to receive or read it if you are bogged down by things you are no longer passionate about. Spring is here, shed your skin if you need to. We have your back either way!

  • I think we all reach a place in our life, sometimes more than once, where we ask ourselves, “Is C, D, and E really worth it when all I want to do is A and B?”. We need to do the things that will makes us happy and keep us satisfied in our day-to-day life. I coached for 5 years before getting my current teaching job. And now, seven years later, I don’t regret leaving it behind to give all I have for my students in my classroom. Do I sometime miss it? Yes. But back then that was my connection to kids. Now, as a teacher, I don’t know that I could give less than 100% to my students, because I’d need some of that for my athletes, and feel good about it. I was hired to be a teacher, and I absolutely love doing just that. . .teaching.

  • “E”, one word pops into my mind, “Hiatus.” Maybe a break from those added “obligations” is just what you need to set you on the road you were meant to travel. Sometimes those crossroads illuminate a true path that had previously been hidden. Regardless, it would appear from my perspective anyway, that your many hats have certainly not diminished your teaching abilities and the connection you have with your kids. My two cents. -“Y”

  • I have been following your posts for awile. This was by far one of your best. You articulated a crossroad many have faced and I am glad you put it to paper. I made the choice to leave administration and go back to the classroom. In some ways it’s counterintuitive to the “normal”career trajectory. It was the BEST decision. Keep up the blogs! They are relevant to K-12 as well as higher ed!

  • Take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Do what you want to do .TEACH. Don’t let your students down, they are what is important to you, they need you. It is difficult to be a leader but you have led in great ways. Your students need you, so teach them as you have been and all will be grateful.

  • Have fun! In today’s world, it is easy to get lost in work and obligations. Do what you want, and listen to yourself. You are a great teacher, and what better way to teach us than to talk about the dilemmas of every day life? I was in a similar boat last year. I was spending all my time serving others, and ignoring myself. Now that I have changed that, I’ve been so much happier. I’m still helping others, but I’m not spending every waking hour doing it. We all need fun in our lives, and sometimes to get there, you have to shed some of those responsibilities.

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