A Crisis In Identity

Who am I? It was destined to happen. You leave a job you have been doing for over twenty five years; a job where you encounter so many people that it obviously becomes a major stakeholder in your identity, that when you leave it, the question needs to be asked. Who am I? I’m not sure. I’m in transition. Well, I do know what makes me happy, I know what my values are, I know who my family and extended family is, I just don’t know what I will end up doing. So, I do know who I am. I just don’t know where I am going. My life is open. I am a small business owner. I am a healer, holding space and empowering others. I am a mentor. I am a private tutor. I am a witch. I am an alien. I am a soul who has incarnated many, many times. I am left wing, mostly. I am an animal lover. I am a hard worker, not necessarily smart worker. I am compassionate, empathetic, happy, satisfied, loyal. I am many things. But, I don’t know what else I will be. I’ve talked sense to myself now. I’m trusting this process of transition. I know I want to make a huge difference in this world. I know that I need to be cognisant of the signs as they come. I know I will be fine. My identity is not what I do; it is who I am in what I do and outside what I do. I stand firm. I know who I am.

A Crisis In Identity

Who am I? It was destined to happen. You leave a job you have been doing for over twenty five years; a job where you encounter so many people that it obviously becomes a major stakeholder in your identity, that when you leave it, the question needs to be asked. Who am I? I’m not sure. I’m in transition. Well, I do know what makes me happy, I know what my values are, I know who my family and extended family is, I just don’t know what I will end up doing. So, I do know who I am. I just don’t know where I am going. My life is open. I am a small business owner. I am a healer, holding space and empowering others. I am a mentor. I am a private tutor. I am a witch. I am an alien. I am a soul who has incarnated many, many times. I am left wing, mostly. I am an animal lover. I am a hard worker, not necessarily smart worker. I am compassionate, empathetic, happy, satisfied, loyal. I am many things. But, I don’t know what else I will be. I’ve talked sense to myself now. I’m trusting this process of transition. I know I want to make a huge difference in this world. I know that I need to be cognisant of the signs as they come. I know I will be fine. My identity is not what I do; it is who I am in what I do and outside what I do. I stand firm. I know who I am.

Complicated

I was chatting to a friend yesterday about how complicated we make our lives. This week has really demonstrated to me just how true this is.

My leaving teaching has been years in the making, and I mean, years. For some people, it must be the most cliche and boring mantra ever lol. But, it had to be a process for me, and by being a process, I made it all a lot more complicated.

I still remember the day I raced home and informed my Mum that I was going to be a teacher. I just knew. I was five. I was so excited. And, I didn’t really or seriously ever from this path, until a couple of years ago. I’m now 47. I have been teaching since 1993. I was insanely passionate about it for the vast majority of those years.

What killed my passion?

Politics, bureaucracy, stupid decisions by the Department of Education, and their inability to see and respect teachers as a vital part of the education machine. Basically, teachers are required to sacrifice their soul, their personal ethics, their personal ideals, their identity, their lives, for a system that never supports their welfare first.

Yes, I still love my classroom and I adore my kids, but the stupidity of the bureaucrats is increasingly forcing its way into my classroom and into what I teach.

One of the best teachers I know refuses to play this game, at her own expense, but revitalizes my teaching every week. I will miss working with such a creative and empowering soul.

I want less fight in my life. I still want to create a different world. That was my motivation in my twenties, and it is my motivation now; however, the mode for achieving this has changed.

When I entered teaching, I was a victim of my childhood. I wanted to save others so that I could save myself. I succeeded, on both counts.

I have matured, and I have done a hell of a lot of healing.

My core values are still the same: we are all worth a lot.

Once I realised that I was worth something, it became difficult to stay somewhere I do not feel valued. The school I work at doesn’t make a difference because the system that underpins education in this country is broken. The management of it, is conducted by people who truly have no idea what teaching effectively involves and requires. The ‘system’ thinks one size fits all for schools, for staff, for kids, ironically, as they force more administration duties for differentiation onto staff.

I shake my head in disbelief.

The investigation year was difficult. I felt so guilty and so shamed. This triggered healing on different levels for me. Eighteen months after its conclusion, I realise that it is not me who was wrong. The system is.

My values no longer align with the values and philosophies of the system. I still believe that every child, every staff member, every family, is the most important thing and deserve, and are worthy, of being treated as such. One size does NOT fit all. Far from it.

And, if you’ve never experienced childhood trauma, if you’ve never set foot in a difficult classroom, if you’ve never programmed a unit, or written assessments, or spent hours marking, you shouldn’t be writing policy for education or legislating for Child Protection. It really is as simple as that.

The smashed windscreen forced me to stop living in fear of not having enough. My soul does not belong in a system that does not look after its people. My values no longer align. It is my responsibility to move to something that suits me better.

Last night, after an afternoon and evening of tutoring, I drove home with a full heart and a smile on my face. The same thing happened on Thursday night as I drove home.

I’m still making a difference in children’s lives, and they are still making a difference in mine.

I still program, I still teach, I’m still ‘saving’ kids. And, I’m doing it without fear. I’m not looking over my shoulder. I’m just being and doing, breathing and loving. Myself and them.

Maybe, I just reached a point in healing my own trauma and pain, and I’m ready to fly. Maybe, I’m ready to grow and live large, and really own my potential in changing the world. Maybe, I’m just remembering the whole of who I am, and systems don’t support the individual expression and accumulated knowledge.

And, maybe, I’m just overthinking it all, making it more complicated.

Anyway, I’m on the bridge. I’m almost to the other side; eight more steps. It’s scary and it’s liberating, all in one.

Doing what fills my heart is the right thing. I don’t know exactly where I’m heading, but I know I’m heading somewhere. I’m doing what makes me happy, where my skills and talents are at the fore, I’m living a passionate life, and I feel truly blessed.

I wish this for everyone who doesn’t have it. It’s scary changing course, very scary, that’s why it’s taken me so long. It’s hard to leave everything you’ve ever known and take a leap in faith.

Today, when I leave for a long day of work, I will feel light and happy. Tonight, when I arrive home, I will feel full and extremely grateful for the opportunity to work in a job I love so much.

Today, I won’t be sworn at, my windscreen won’t be smashed, my things won’t be stolen, I will only have the paperwork and admin to do that benefits myself and my clients directly. I’ll still be programming, targeting the needs of my kids, supporting their holistic learning, and connecting with community. I’ll be doing things that are purposeful and soul filling.

That’s the difference.

It’s time for this bird to fly. I might crash, but if I do, it will be on my terms and because of my actions.

Synchronous Moments

It is the first of February. Thirty one days of 2017 gone. Thirty one days into my reckless gap year. And January was an emotional rollercoaster. 

After tutoring yesterday afternoon though, and missing the kids at school, I have remembered how much I absolutely love teaching. The act of teaching fills my soul with warmth and love, connectedness and vigour. And, I love writing. The ability to weave lessons and beauty and truth into a tapestry of words – man, nothing like it. 

I start February calm again, with restored focus and stronger trust. Lessons from India and the beauty of Hobart rolled together into one last night in the guise of a film, that everyone should see. If only for the artistry and sophistication in how the story is told. 

Lion.

Dev Patel must be my favourite contemporary actor. He can tell any story authentically. No words. 

Lion. A reminder to me of all I desired achieving this year. A reminder that life is short and that suffering mindfully yields a beautiful life, ultimately. And, a reminder that life happens and that we should embrace it with compassion and purpose. 

India and Hobart. The last two places I have travelled to. Together in one film to remind me that this year was still about service as well as telling stories. The goals I had gently pushed to the side in the anxious flurry of not working and excitement in organizing travel. 

I trust that I have needed to work through something and that is why I have been anxious, and I am at peace with that. 

Yesterday culminated resolving my sense of value and worth, and the love for teaching that I possess, as well as remembering the different things that I set out to explore this year, and trusting that this is all a process and was never meant to be easy … or everyone would do it. 

Maybe this is why a couple of people have called my gap year brave. 

Maybe I am. 

Self Discovery 

So, I have contacted the fostering agency and let them know that I am postponing the application/assessment process for six months to discover who I am. They have acknowledged this and informed me of the process if I decide to continue in six months. 

I had an amazing time away. I loved seeing different parts of New Zealand, and it reinforced for me how much more I love natural environments than city environments (NYC being the exception). 

We were having lunch one of the Sunday’s and there was a pod of dolphins playing behind the ship, swimming, chasing and diving. You can’t buy that sort of beauty. What incredible creatures my totem animal are. And I was blessed to see them like this, in their natural state, twice. Amazing. 

And the trip reinforced how much I love travelling. And how whole I feel as a traveller, explorer, searcher. I love the peace that I find within me. A calm that I don’t often experience in my real life, working life. I love having the contrast in my life. 

And I didn’t yearn for children. My fur family was at home, safe, being cared for by others. And that is enough. I loved coming home to them and missed them whilst I was away. 

I read Brene Brown. Two books. Daring Greatly has had a profound impact on me, and I am really practicing elements of her suggestions. 

During my IVF attempts, I often said that I could feel the process altering who I was, and believed that I would not be the same person I was when I started that journey. At times, I felt like this would be a loss, and at times, I think it was. 

However, today I see myself becoming more of who I have always had the potential to be. I think I am becoming more myself. Wholly myself. I’m not entirely sure who that is but I can feel subtle changes every day. 

I am living more consciously, more mindfully, more presently. I am thinking about things I would like to do and then expressing it, and following it up. I feel a sense of control is returning. 

It has taken a long time though. It’s been fifteen months since my last unsuccessful IVF attempt. That’s a long time to be drifting, and not be aware that you are drifting and not wholly living. But it was also necessary. 

I think sometimes we can all be prone to drift. To just stick to the same patterns and rituals, and not think about what we really want or how we really want our lives to look. 

Today, I feel like I am in the process of receiving a significant gift. I am moulding the life I want to be living. I have been given the opportunity to explore my life’s possibilities. I am taking stock and making plans. Today, I am enjoying this process of my life unfolding anew. 

Gratitude.