This semester has been a tough one, and it’s left me reconsidering my career. Honestly, I’ve been having a tough time of it since I had The Kid. I just don’t have the focus and drive that I used to. And I’m getting increasingly frustrated with people who are only concerned with themselves and money rather than what’s in the best interest of the students. But, I digress.
Growing up, folks always told me that I should be a teacher because I was smart. I never believed them. Yes, I was an A student (mostly), but I never thought I had anything to offer. Plus, being a teacher meant going to college, and since my family was poor, I didn’t think it was an option.
Somehow, though, I ended up enrolled at my local community college. And that’s where two people who helped me more than they knew at the time.
My history professor was a tornado of a woman who just bulldozed everyone in her path. She didn’t take any bullshit from anyone. She was funny, blunt, and passionate. I adored her. One of the assignments in her American History class was to teach the class about a topic from American History. At the time, I was fascinated with JFK and chose to present on his assassination. I spent hours at the library (this was pre-internet for me, y’all) researching and compiling information for my presentation. The professor wasn’t going to supplement our presentations, so what we presented was what the students learned. It was a lot of pressure, I thought, to teach my peers.
One student in that class intimidated the hell out of me. He was my friend, but he was the smartest, wittiest guy I knew. While I agonized over everything, he seemed to just know everything, or what to say, without a second of thought. I hated and admired that about him. He was so great at history and everything political (which hasn’t changed), that the thought of presenting in front of him made me want to throw up. I was so terrified that I told the professor that I’d feel better if he were out of the room. I’m not sure why, but she agreed to it. He thought it was odd, I’m sure, but obliged. I did the presentation and was pretty fantastic at it. I was comfortable in the front of the classroom, fielded questions with ease, and loved every second of it. It sounds cheesy, but that’s when I knew I should be a teacher.
After class that day, my professor told me that I should have let my classmate remain in the room while I presented. She said that I should never let anyone intimidate me like that because I was smart, and had something to offer in the classroom. I try to hold on to that when I don’t feel like I belong, or when I don’t feel smart enough. Which, honestly, happens more often than I’d like to admit sometimes.
Feeling like I had to keep up with my classmate pushed me to work harder and to ultimately realize that we all have something to offer to a conversation or class. He is still one of the smartest people I know, and I’m still learning from him (even if I don’t always agree with him).
So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m thankful for two people who in their own ways made me a more confident student and teacher. Now, if I can find someone who can help me become a more confident mother…