Last night, I stepped up to the mic–for the very first time–and read some of my poetry. It felt exhilerating, nerve-wracking, and altogether liberating. After my performance, my roommate confessed that he had been skeptical about my poetic skills — and thankfully, I met that skepticism with a big “don’t-you-dare-doubt-me-you-jerk.” And here I am today, living to tell the tale, feeling accomplished. Last night was my recommittment to myself, my dreams, and my writing.
Yet this morning, in the wake of that personal success, the nerves are returning. Why? Because committing to this dream, believing in myself when others are doubtful, means risking failure. Means pushing my comfort zone. Means putting myself in situations where I deeply care about the outcome and may wind up disappointed.
I can’t help but think of Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist, a tale of a young man pursuing his “Personal Legend.” Coelho asserts that pursuing a dream always starts with “beginner’s luck,” to get you to commit to your path, before the challenges really start to hit. As I commit to this dream, I realize I’m risking more than I have in a long time.
Ultimately, though, I am grateful to be here. I’m grateful to everyone who inspired me to take up this task — who gave me the courage to start, who encouraged me to step up, and who led me to the resources to commit to this goal.
Last night, I took a risk. I’ve been taking risks in the classroom for months (our one-hundred-days-of-teaching anniversary was this week, wooooo!), but last night, I took a risk just for myself. After months of obsessing about my classroom day and night, I’m starting to feel human again. That can only mean good things for my students — but my happiness cannot just be a means to the end of my students’ success. The pursuit of happiness in my own life is a justifiable end itself. Last night, I started to believe in that again.