I’m one of the fortunate ones that knew what I wanted to be when I grew up since the first grade- a Mrs Noble. A bird’s nest of bobbed graying hair. A wrinkled face – each crest and crinkle a lesson and a trial. She wore these two things beautifully. She had a story-telling voice that woke up any weary eyed child to peek at peeling pages and imagine instead of daydream. Her hugs were warm and soft like fresh blankets pulled out of a dryer. And all in the same tone of voice she could comfortingly discipline, praise, command, and teach her children. Mrs. Noble was my first grade teacher. I remember her so vibrantly because I was the kid that was oddly ecstatic to start big kid school. I sat up straight, sharpened my attention, had my number two pencil tight in my grip and eyes Elmer’s glued to her teaching. Perhaps I was the most excited child, but I wasn’t the best. My alphabet was chicken scratch, my reading mumbled, and my math unsolved. I was the kid who stayed in from recess to artfully perfect my cursive and phonetically read out challenging, tongue twister words. And probably every other kid would have thrown a fit over missing precious hop scotch and four-square, but I didn’t mind. I had Mrs Noble. And over that year she taught me all the tricks to sound out those monstrous words, to dot my Is and cross my Ts, and to figure out the math in my head instead of counting pudgy fingers. After that year, I knew I wanted to be just like her.
So when I started to look at colleges eleven years later, my eye was captured at schools known for their education programs. EKU, Bowling Green, and Wittenberg all gave me acceptance letters- those big golden ticket packets that glisten in your hands; “Congratulations! We want you!” Wilmington College was a ‘last visit, last resort, last school I was originally interested in’ kind of school. I wish I could say that I was thrilled about my visit, that I felt “right at home,” but I didn’t get any of those feels-like-fate emotions. Financially, this was my only option. I came from broken pieces of a hard-working single mother, passed away father at thirteen, and big girl ambitions blocked by financial strains. But these pieces were my biggest motivators. They were chapters of my story that push my plot line. Achieve. Journey forward. I have made connections with wise professors, created bonds of encouraging friendships, and rose to dean’s list achievements. I continued my seven year artistic outlet of dance by joining and also becoming captain of the dance team. I decided to learn and play lacrosse. I have learned to love my second home, Wilmington College.
But I’m sure everyone has had this experience. Even those who are so set and so driven on their major play the mind-numbing doubt games: “Am I wasting my time…my money? What if I don’t find a job? Is this my true passion? What if I find out this isn’t for me?” And even though these thoughts have turned me into an insomniac at times, I have come to only one conclusion from these late night thoughts. They are innately helpful and I think something out of our control pulls on life’s marionette strings and guides us down the right direction. For some, these thoughts guide them to change majors, to re-evaluate their passions. For others, these thoughts solidify those burning purpose feelings in the heart and mind. I think we get to peaceful places through the trial, the questioning, the search. It isn’t an easy process. My roommate Hannah just shared a tweet from an account @CollegeStudent; “Double major in over-thinking and worry, minor in night crying.” Your career path, just like life itself, is not a destination but a journey. Bear with me; cliche as it is or not, it does speak truth. Because every morning when you lay in bed, you have two choices: You can continue to sleep and dream, or wake up and make those dreams a reality. Choose the latter. I promise it’s worth it.
So whenever I feel like the weight of all of this doubt is a little too much, I think of all of the encouraging words from my family, friends, and professors. One nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me has been the words from my adviser, Gary Louis who believes that “Happiness comes from being able to love your work. It comes from making sure that your proposed career path is congruent with who you believe yourself to be. It speaks for what you believe is most important to you.” Gary told me he learned that he truly had a passion for teaching when he discovered that he wanted to do for others and leave the world a better place than he found it. When I think about becoming a teacher, I think of Mrs. Noble. I think of my freshman year of high school as I tagged along on a mission trip to Chicago. Among the many projects we tackled in the big city, we spent each morning with inner city kids at a kindergarten center. It was awakening. I saw broken children- untied and untrained shoe laces caked in recess mud, scattered attention spans, and sometimes unruly and chaotic behaviors. But the efforts to teach were not given up by the instructors. Their vigor to fit the broken pieces together of these children was alive and working. And for those few hours, kids had the opportunity to become whole again- to learn, create, explore, and imagine for themselves. I knew I wanted to be like these inner city teachers. I knew I wanted to help.
Know what you want. Reflect on the experiences you come from that have lead you to exactly where you are right now in this moment. What is your story? What is your journey? Write it, dream it, believe it, achieve it, and live it- all to the fullest.