Cracking voices. Growth spurts. Acne cream & deodorant. While many students at my school are trying to navigate the treacherous waters of being a teenager, I’m also going through an awkward stage of development. It’s the dirty little secret about your early 20′s that no one mentions — you’re back to being thrust into situations that you have no clue how to handle. This “second puberty” doesn’t manifest itself in body changes. It’s paying bills, saving money, transforming former friendships into relationships that can withstand hundreds of miles of separation. While my kids are figuring out how to be teenagers, I’m desperately trying to figure out this whole “adult” thing.
Before classes started at John Marshall, I distinctly remember watching a lonely bird at the end of my hallway. It had somehow wound up on the second floor of John Marshall, far from any openings. Longingly, the bird chirped and fluttered toward the open sky beyond the glass — which was sealed shut on all sides. As long as that bird kept doggedly exploring the glass, it would be stuck inside forever. Its only hope for freedom was venturing down the dark hallways, across our wide entrance hall, and out the doors below. It had to risk moving into completely foreign terrain if it were to return to the sky.
Over the course of this semester, that’s how I’ve felt. I keep longingly gazing back into my past, remembering how comfortable and safe I felt — in college and with my family. But to feel safe & comfortable again, I can’t keep looking to the past. I have to keep moving forward — I have to journey beyond what I know and be prepared to make some mistakes. I have to commit to adult life.
While this blog is certainly about recording my experiences with my students and my development as a teacher, it’s also about something much broader — my development as an adult. I’m growing up alongside my students, and while our changes are occurring in different arenas of our lives, they are significant and often scary.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up with the same group of friends throughout college — people I love and trust with my entire heart. My life in college was deeper and richer because of these relationships. And while I’m still trying to figure out what this means, I do know this — the same is true of my TFA OKC friends, and of course, of my students.
One day, we’ll all get this whole growing up thing together.