Obnoxious sunshiney optimist that I am, I forgot about this part. Now that I’m telling people that, yes, I am voluntarily leaving my profession for an indeterminate amount of time, they want to know what I’m going to do. They look much like children, eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, as if I’m telling them the Easter Bunny isn’t real. They don’t ask why I’m leaving, only what will happen next.
Perhaps this is because I have been the village preschool teacher for the last 6 years of my life. By “village” I mean that I have taught in 4 different programs, all within a half hour of each other. I know everyone’s kids, and I can barely walk down the street without a child running up behind me to give me a hug. I’m many parents’ first experience with a teacher and putting a child in school, and they remember that. So, I’ve tried on a lot of different settings. But not trying them on in any lackadaisical way. Really trying them on. Throwing myself in headfirst. When they didn’t work, I left gracefully, but learned what I would and would not stand for. (That deserves its own post, note to self.)
This is how my community knows me and it must make them a little nervous that this seemingly, steady stable woman, looks like she’s taking a deep dive into unknown waters, maybe with sharks. Ah! Sharks! In college, people called me “the yoga girl” because I was the one teaching yoga and talking about it all. the. time. Now, I am a preschool teacher by day, yoga teacher by nights and weekends, multi-tasking queen of the universe! (Okay, I made that last part up, but come on!! We all need a pick-me-up.) But soon, I am to be neither of these things. I imagine I will teach more yoga, but who knows what that looks like?
When I lead women’s circles I tell my participants to come as they are, to drop the veil and that being seen is not about what you do. What you do does not directly inform who you are. Let me say that again.
What you do does not directly inform who you are.
You are not just a mess of skills and degrees and years of experience. Be proud of those accomplishments. I know I am. But remember that they only make up a part of who you are. You are multifaceted and you have a soul. As a culture we need to remember this.
Sometimes I get caught up in the scary idea that my worth as a human being and member of my community is contingent upon what I do. Am I only valuable when I have a socially acceptable 9-5 gig? When I am an adult with a 401K and a salary? When I am coming from my place of knowing, I know this is crap. I know that I have a use and purpose that I am still uncovering, and that is terrifying and and exciting and then terrifying again. This is okay.
Today, my dentist (and my eye doctor-whatever, I have a lot of appointments before my health insurance runs out!) asked me “What are you going to do now?” He’s a nice guy. His wife regularly attends my yoga classes. He was genuinely wanting to know my plans. So, how do you answer this question?
Here’s the best part: You answer it however you want, with honesty. I used to try to rattle off a laundry list of THINGS, I’m not going to do that anymore. It takes courage to say “I’m not exactly sure, I have some other opportunities, but this is the best decision for me right now.” And as if I had spoken an ancient incantation, or had hit the right password, he smiled, wished me well, and off I went.