the land of perpetual beginning
disclaimer! this post was actually written on the 28th of june. i don’t know why i never published it. but there it is, after long last. give it a pat on the head and welcome it to the world.
well, the first week of teach for america has drawn to a close. tomorrow we leave for institute. i have to admit, i am a bit sad that we’re not all going to one spot — i’m relieved for my wallet that i am going to philly, but a bit saddened that some of the people i’ve connected with most this week will be on the opposite coast this month. i suppose there will be plenty of time to grow these friendships when I come back, but i’ve always been the type to feel apprehensive about missing out on something.
i’ve had the itch for several days now. before your mind goes to a gutter place, rest assured that i’m only talking about the writing itch. i was pleasantly surprised to hear it referred to as such by a fellow writer and tfa-er, who incidentally also uses the word “vomit” to describe the product of such an itch. mmm, itchy vomit. word vomit. gotta love it. so behold my word vomit.
this week has been quite the whirlwind. i’ve learned a surprising amount about myself that i feel a bit sheepish for only now coming to terms with. sunday last week, when i was trying frantically to read several hundred pages of material that most corps members who escaped the waitlist period had weeks or months to get through, i had a few moments of what can only be described as panic. okay, maybe not panic, but definite anxiety. okay, maybe panic.
the panic was more about me feeling that i would be unprepared. at my final interview, i found out that all the other applicants had had access to workshops, recruitment teams (i didn’t even know TFA recruited at all at that point), and any number of preparation resources that i had never heard mention of. nary a blip on the emily radar. i felt vastly at a disadvantage. oddly, i may have been the only one in that room to get in, if you look at the statistics. but that’s a digression, and i do enough of those anyway.
obviously i didn’t run away screaming — i got through the week. and i learned a lot. that may sound silly, but it’s really rather true. i realized a lot of things about myself that i didn’t really recognize on a conscious level much before. one of those things is that i think i am a walking paradox. in many ways, i am an open book. i’m very open with my experiences, my thoughts — i’ll tell you anything and everything, to the extent that i’m sure i tmi the unwary. but when something is very precious to me, i keep it private. this usually goes for my deepest emotions and the things closest to my heart. i might let people see the box i keep them in, but only one or two very privileged people might get to see what’s inside, and that’s only when i feel okay showing them.
the second part of this is that i am intensely independent. i’ve always known that, but i don’t think i realized before this week just how nervous i am to express my needs. i think that’s because i’m afraid they won’t be met, which is really rather stupid, if i do say so myself. and since i’m talking about me, i’ll say it: it’s dumb. i am a very independent person. and it takes a lot for someone to get close enough to me for me to get to the point that i would turn to them in the relatively rare moments when i muster up the courage to say i need something. there aren’t many people in that space in my mind — i’m pretty choosy about it, and for good reason. i’ve found this week that this is something very central to who i am and how i take care of myself. conversely, i think i feel empowered and grateful when someone turns to me for help. i forget that maybe others could feel that way as well when i turn to them — as human beings (maybe more even in america than in some places), we often pride ourselves on our self-reliance. to express need, to ask for help in a moment of sincere necessity, is, quite frankly, really fucking hard. so when someone makes themself vulnerable that way, i know that i value that trust they show by coming to me with what they need.
i learned a lot of other things, but those were the two biggies in the introspection realm. i’ve got a helter-skelter of emotions about leaving dc for philly for institute. when it comes to the work itself, i’m very excited to dig in and get moving. i am however, in a place where i yearn to have my own home and feel stabilized. i want the freedom to build my life here uninterrupted. it’s only a few short weeks away, but any real apprehension i feel about going to philadelphia is pretty much only due to that. my life has been in such a state of flux that at this point, you could tell me to go to timbuktu and i would probably just nod, rub my eyes, and start throwing stuff in a suitcase. dunno what i’d do when i got there, but i’m really ready to get settled and feel at home.
on top of all that, i met some really great people this week. i’m excited to get to know them better over the course of the next couple years. i’ve had some definite information overload, which is probably why this has been more introspection than regurgitation of what i’ve learned about teaching this week. but here is something about tfa before i wrap up.
it’s 3:21, and i’m awake. there’s nothing new about that for me. my mind’s a busy place, and it seems to thrive most in its natural habitat between 9 pm and about 3 am. the thought of the effort — swiftly approaching — that it will take to modify that flits through my brain and is immediately displaced by the whirlwind of thoughts that preceded it.
this week is drawing to a close. five-ish days ago, i met 271 corps members and 30-some-odd staff who will be intimately tied to my life for the duration of the next two years. already, my memories spark to life at the thought of these people. many of them would most likely have skimmed by outside of my radar were it not for one basic fact: we all share an urgent passion and a burning conviction. this conviction is twofold: first, that every child in this country deserves the opportunity afforded by receiving an excellent education; and second, that a staggering number of our nation’s children face a shameful and glaring disparity between the quality of education they receive and the excellence they deserve. it’s that conviction that has brought us here to dc to try and fix it.
i know i have a lot to learn before i will be able to fix it — i’m not an excellent teacher yet. that takes time, effort, and a lot of work. but i’m going into this with the expectation of myself to do the work necessary to become an excellent teacher, so i can give the children who are about to become my responsibility the education they deserve. and what is about to start a mere 26 hours from now (not kidding) is the framework that will give me the tools to do this work. and that is exciting to me.
i know that’s all pretty vague, but it’s 3:35 am now, and i’ve been writing this for about an hour. but here i am, starting something new again. new city (for a month), new training, new people (more of them), new job, new home (in august), new school, new classes (both to teach and to sit in). so many new things coming my way. i’m grateful for all of it, of course, but as i sit here and look forward, i can’t help but silently whisper to dc to keep my place for me here, because as grateful as i am for the new things coming my way, it’s the familiar and fond i turn to at the end of the day.