Lately I’ve been on a soul searching quest to follow my passion. This crusade has forced me to answer some challenging questions. And just when I think I have things figured out, something comes along to alter my thinking. For some time now I’ve felt that remaining in my current work situation will only serve to disappoint and keep me from fulfilling myself creatively. Leaving my current school district has been something that I have thought about for quite some time. In fact, leaving the teaching profession altogether has been something I have been struggling with for months.
Yesterday in church, my pastor’s message challenged this thinking. He spoke about leadership and one’s courage to lead in the face of adversity. He asked us to think about what it takes to remain where we are, and to lead from where we are. He asked how close we come to our vision before we run in fear because we are afraid.
It does take courage and strength to lead, to bring about change. It takes risk. Leadership begs the question -am I qualified enough?
This in turn forced me to ask these same questions of myself. If I so desperately want change in my district, why am I not fighting for it?Many of the leaders that I have come to respect through social media have advised me to be that one voice of change. My response has been to laugh and look for an external fix. Perhaps I should be looking inward. Is my desire to leave based on fear? Do I lack bravery? Can I step up even when I am afraid?
Yesterday’s message is weighing heavy on my mind. How many ordinary people are willing to change things right where they are? How many ordinary people are willing to be brave? How many ideas are dying all the time that could change the world, because people are not ready to step up?
I’ve recently been told by two close friends that they believe me to be passionate about my role as a teacher. In both instances the word passionate caught me off guard. Friends who know me have come to understand the frustration I have felt for many years as a teacher. They have witnessed my heart ache, sleepless nights, tears, anxiety, and fits of anger over a job that at times consumes me. Passionate people are often quick to feel anger (check), have difficulty letting go of problems (check), and always wear emotions on their sleeve (check). I am a slave to all of these traits. I am a lot like my dad in that way. Defined this way, being passionate doesn’t sound that endearing.
This morning I decided to do a little research on the word passion. Here is what I discerned. “Passion (from the Latin verb patī meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling, enthusiasm, or desire for anything”.
Passionate people are focused, expressive, independent thinkers, learners, and risk takers. But perhaps the best description I found was this excerpt written by Sima Ballinger in her post about passionate people. She writes “Passion creates excellence when mediocrity will do. Passion makes you laugh, when you feel like crying. Passion makes you open your mouth and proclaim something, when a whisper will do. Passion allows you to sit still, when you feel like walking away. Passion will cause you to break a record, when finishing the race will do. Passion will make you stay up all night long, when you want to sleep. Passion will cause you to love, when you would rather hate.”
Knowing that people regard me this way revealed an important lesson. I was forced to reflect differently about the way I see myself, and the way others perceive me. If by passionate my friends see me as speaking out about what’s wrong in education (when a whisper will do), then yes I am guilty. If I lose many nights of sleep worrying about my job, my students and my school,( when I’d rather be sleeping), then yes I am guilty. If I strive for excellence by honing my craft to make learning fresh each year (when tried and true methods will do), then yes I am guilty. If my friends want to define me as passionate, I’ll take it. For when you are surrounded by something you truly love and care about, you can’t hide it, your passion comes through.
I’m convinced that I’m residing in the wrong part of the country. I’m not made for the cold. I’m a summer girl through and through. My body responds quite adversely when the temperature drops below 65 degrees. Every year as the summer comes to an end, and the nights grow colder, my extremities rebel. My fingers and toes turn blue, and I’m constantly feeling chilled. This usually lasts until the heat of the summer can thaw me enough so that socks and sweatshirts aren’t required attire. Sometimes this thaw occurs in June, but lately it seems that I can’t fully defrost until July.
As the weather begins to warm up here in the Northeast, I feel the summer calling to me. My flip flops beckon to me from the storage bins in my closet. Like the metamorphosis of the caterpillar, I am slowly beginning to find my way out of my winter cocoon. Little by little I am shedding the trappings of winter and looking forward to the rebirth that summer brings to me both mentally and physically.