Students and Teachers

I woke up extremely early this morning in desperate need of food. I’m not sure where it came from—this feeling that my stomach was nibbling on itself and neighboring organs, but I knew only peanut butter and bread would satisfy the hunger (mostly because my only other option was cold spaghetti).

As I wandered through the dark house that we officially claimed as our own less than three weeks ago, I tripped on some discarded shoes in the floor, I groped aimlessly in the dark for a light switch that had positioned itself in the most inconvenient part of the living room, and I finally made my way into the kitchen, where I proceeded to make a sad little peanut butter sandwich that I wished with all my heart would transform into a large plate of waffles.

Nearly all my time this week has been spent painting the walls of the kitchen, which is really a pathetic thing to admit because it’s taken me three days to finish painting a room that is half the size of the living room, which Tanner and I painted in less than four hours last week.

The delay in progress may be attributed to two things: 1) I ran out of painter’s tape, so I had to be super careful around the trim, cabinets, and ceiling; and 2) I was simultaneously listening to NPR via the mounted radio on the underside of the kitchen cabinets and playing Gilmore Girls reruns on the TV in the living room. I won’t say I’m proud of this highly dysfunctional form of multi-tasking, but I will say that it was kind of the best thing ever.

Anyway, we can cross one more thing off our list of home renovations, and no one need concern themselves with my methods of bringing this about.

While I’m grateful for the time I’ve had to paint and decorate this new home of ours, it’s really been more of a way to kill time this week—something to fill the void of reading and studying while I wait to receive a certain book for a teaching certification program that I’ve been engaged in since we got back to Texas.

That’s right. I am working toward a career in education because, as fun as it has been to jump between freelancing jobs and periodic bouts of unemployment, this move toward teaching is a long time coming. I’ve always known, and I’ve always doubted, that I want to be a teacher. For some reason I now feel more confident than ever that the time is right and this is what I want to do, and that’s a pretty good feeling to have after a year spent in life-goals limbo.

Just as I am finding my rhythm and settling into our new life here, I believe Tanner is enjoying the move as well. He is excited about working on the house, and I think he is enjoying his new job as much as anyone can be expected to when they work for the kind of company that pays to move them across the country, pays for the cost of living temporarily in a nice downtown hotel, and offers an on-site fitness center and chick-fil-a.

So, yeah. If he ever complains about his job, then just ignore him or pinch him or something.

In all seriousness though, Tanner is a thinker and a dreamer. He definitely has big plans that go beyond working for a major corporation, and in that sense he is a risk-taker. This aspect of his nature scares me sometimes because I distrust risk. I like familiarity and consistency and comfort. I’m prone to anxiety and fear (sometimes the irrational type), and I tend to believe that certain dreams are not attainable for me because I’m not the right kind of person to achieve them. These thoughts are only fueled if ever I do fail at something, and then I become even more fearful.

Tanner is not like me. I’m sure he has his own insecurities, but he doesn’t let the fear of failure or even actual failure keep him from challenging himself to test his own limits or go for things that may seem out of his reach. Sometimes our clashing natures make communication difficult because we project our own system of beliefs onto one another. However, it is the most beneficial thing in the world when we take time to hear each other out and to reason together without both of us trying to force courage or caution into the personality of the other.

With the right amount of gentleness and humility, we do eventually begin to see things from the other person’s point of view. After all, I’m not a complete emotional wreck most of the time, and sometimes cation and reason are good things to bring to the table. In the same way, it’s inspiring and encouraging to observe someone who is fearless and who has successfully carried out some of the plans they’ve made over the course of their life. Luckily we find this balance in each other, but also we find it in our relationships with friends and family. I suppose that’s the importance of community—to observe the people around us and to learn from them the lessons that our hearts and minds are incapable of finding in solitude. In this sense, we’re all students and teachers.

As a new student of fearlessness, I’m still afraid of failing to become a teacher or even failing as a teacher, and part of me desires so strongly to stay home and keep picking up easy, mind-numbing freelance projects rather than going for something I know will be more challenging and more rewarding. However, as I observe the beautiful, strong, and hardworking people in my life, I am beginning to learn that failure is bound to occur in one way or another and that I have the power to choose what my definition of the word will be. As an aspiring teacher, I will choose to see any failure (past, present, or future) as a stepping stone toward successfully carrying out the hopes that I have both held and repressed.

In the meantime, as all of this struggle and introspection and growth is taking place, I can only continue to take things one day at a time. For now, that means picking up those shoes off the living room floor, heating up some of that cold spaghetti for lunch, and catching up on some reading from the book I didn’t have yesterday.


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