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I have just finished reading Brené Brown’s new book, “Braving The Wilderness”.
I am amazed and lifted up to find that the “aloneness” that I sometimes feel in my work, even though I love it so much, is valid and real. I had no idea that I would name that realisation through Maya Angelou’s powerful words, “That I belong nowhere, and everywhere.”
I just thought I was left of the middle some days; in my ideas, in the way that I loved students, in the very realness and joy of the words I spoke. There I some days when I teach, I feel like a flower in a full garden. And other days, I may as well be the lone bloom in a desert, for all my differentness, the radicalness of my ideas, and the way I approach my lessons.
What has been the most powerful realisation is that I’m allowed to walk in this solitary independence of thought and ideas, of work and creativity. We all work with some big and challenging personalities who take airtime and room. And yet somehow, the 5-foot nothingness of me stands firm. I often wonder why, with a great deal of disconcerted wonder. And it’s because, somehow, I’ve kept following my compass. What is true and what I understand to be absolutely right in my teaching. The way that I word things might be overly sentimental to some, and binding and harsh to others, but it is exactly what I have learned to be true, authentic and just for me in my teaching right now. My need to celebrate students and acknowledge their light, sadness, anxieties, courage, and very selves, is so different from others who are there purely for the business of teaching. But what IS the business of teaching? It’s CONNECTION AND LOVE. Why be in this profession if you can’t go to those very human places? And be willing to practise connection yourself? Become a teacher, and it’s a lifelong commitment to being a role model, because you are observed far more than you are heard.
And I love that connection + believe that teaching should always begin by being deeply affecting, connective, and personal. Why else would you teach? What is the point of filling an empty vessel if there is no love and meaning?
And then I see with such compassion that those who fear my ability to stand alone are afraid themselves. That they cannot stand alone, because they do not have the courage, or the strength trust in their ideas. That they need to be louder, more overt, more domineering in other ways to override my quiet confidence, my colour, my joy, and my light. It’s annoying and assaulting on the ears to me, but it does not change the course of my heart, or the conviction of what I know is right for me.
I feel it all acutely; standing in my own quiet, solitary joy, in the pure light of my ideas, doesn’t protect me from challenge and discomfort. But I trust that what I do is right. And I also trust that when I come up against failure, I will figure out a solution, because I’m constantly observing and learning. I love this learning. But it is exhausting and asks a lot from me to stay alert and alive.
But that shiver of wonder when I stand alone; that is what I am amazed to find that I am reading about right now. That I am actually “braving the wilderness”, when I thought I was just trying to follow a path that hadn’t been walked, in what felt like blind stupidity. I have always kept walking. But this beating of another hundred hearts doing the same somewhere in the world gives me courage to be that candle in the wind. That it’s not all folly, but becoming the wild and beautiful wilderness.
“But what IS the business of teaching? It’s CONNECTION AND LOVE. ”
May I also add ‘trust’ and ‘respect’ in there too? And you don’t get those without the ‘connection and love’ you write about. My goodness, Annie, I needed to remind a teacher about that this year – a teacher who wondered why a student was having problems when the answer was right there: connection. Whether students engage or disengage, it’s a two way street but when it is an adult and a minor, the adult needs to make the first move. You identified it correctly as being a role model: ‘you are observed far more than you are heard’. Many people should take a leaf out of your book, Annie.
From only having read an excerpt: Wow! I truly felt I was the only one to feel this way, on so many levels. Wanting to belong, yet desiring to go my own way, when the ways of others didn’t suit my individual need, my vision of the future, my plan for myself. Then, having to suffer consequences from others, because of the path I chose, the choices I made. Well, at least I’ve lived the life I chose to live, and not someone else’s life. My life! My choices for myself! The uniqueness of the individual.The freedom to determine for myself how my life will unfold, on every level–that’s what it’s all about for me!!!!! I couldn’t have done my life any other way, but my own way! …so, so glad I did! …can’t wait to read, “Braving the wilderness” in its entirety.