Let’s play a game. It’s called “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Me, age 6: “I want to be a teacher.”
Me, age 10: “I want to be a dolphin trainer.” (ignore that one, that was a weird stage)
Me, age 14: “I want to be a teacher.”
Me, age 18: “I want to be a teacher.”
Me, age 20: “I want to be a teacher.”
Me, age 21: “….I don’t even know anymore.”
I’ve lived practically my whole entire life completely sure of the fact that I wanted to be a teacher. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to inspire children to love learning and to be the one to instill knowledge in them. I want to change kids’ lives, to make a difference in their world. I’ve always felt called to teach and I’ve had countless people tell me they think I would be a wonderful teacher.
Recently, I’ve been struggling with the idea of becoming a teacher. While I still have such a passion for kids and for changing their lives, I just don’t know if the typical classroom teacher route is the road I’m meant for. This has been in the back of my head for a while, but I’ve tried to push it away. Teaching is all I’ve ever considered, all I’ve ever known. The slightest idea of not being a teacher would scare me, so I would convince myself it’s what I wanted. Many times, I would believe it. There are things I love about teaching; there are possibilities that excite me. But at the end of the day, I am just not sure. Thinking about being a teacher…it makes me anxious, it makes me nervous. I just can’t see myself doing it, all day, every day, for the rest of my life.
Two weeks ago, I found myself saying out loud for the first time “…I just don’t know if I want to be a teacher.” The second those words left my mouth, I felt a sense of relief. The second those words left my mouth, I realized, it’s okay if I don’t become a teacher. My life will still go on. Working with kids isn’t my only passion, and I can still have the opportunity to work with kids even if I don’t become a teacher.
So, the next question you may have is “what do you want to do if you’re not going to be a teacher?” Oh, how I wish I knew. All I really know right now is I want to change the world. I don’t know how, I just know that I do. Maybe that will be through a church, or through a non-traditional “teacher” setting, or through a non-profit. Who knows where I’ll end up, honestly.
In less than a year and 3 months, I will have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and I will be licensed to teach Pre-K through 6th grade in the state of Virginia. But, will I? I honestly don’t know. Were these last 4 years a moot point if I don’t ever step foot into a classroom as a teacher? Did I waste thousands and thousands of dollars on an education that I’m never going to use? I really don’t think so. I got so much more out of school than just how to administer a test and how to teach literacy to second graders. I learned more about myself and my abilities than I ever could have imagined. I’ve grown as a person and as a leader. I’ve learned to love myself and how to be confident in my decisions. I’ve learned that I am capable of just about anything I put my mind to. And I’ve learned that changing the world isn’t just a pipe dream, it really can be possible.
So yes, I may walk across Wheeler Lawn on May 14, 2016 and receive a degree that I don’t end up using. Yes, I currently have NO IDEA what I want to do with my life. But what is so bad about that? Who decided that at 22, you have to know exactly what you are going to do until the day you die? It’s perfectly okay that I don’t know where my next path with take me, what my next move will be.
What do I want to be when I grow up, you ask? I have no idea. And I’m weirdly okay with that. This life is an adventure, and I can’t wait to live it.