When I Grow Up

Flying over Boston April 8, 2016

I’ve quickly realized after moving to Boston how truly transient the city is. It’s exciting how driven, competent, and competitive people could be – an energy that, at our current stage in life, was something Alex and I were seeking to be around. It also means, however, that the deep roots we are setting down here may just as well be plucked away or at least challenged just as quickly as we set our move here.

Our close friend from college, Jun, left for San Francisco last weekend for a graduate program in Architecture. It stirred some bittersweet feelings, truth be told, of how proud and excited we were for him, but also of how things were about to change as we continue on (hopefully only for 2 years) in Boston now without him.

These types of life events tend to trigger big life questions. At one point in our last conversations I remember he thought out loud, “You know, I honestly can’t remember the actual moment in my life when I knew I wanted to be an architect… but, well, here I am. Maybe it was from playing The Sims? It had to be The Sims.” he joked.

Which made me think. When I pondered really hard about it, I had – or more accurately have – carved out a fairly long and windy road in my journey, but I was always moving towards teaching.

Growing up, I was one of the oldest girls in my neighborhood, my sister one of the youngest. In the summertime, I would dust off my old books and notebooks and play “teacher” with them as my “students.” Yes, a lot of other things probably helped, but I like to think that at the tender age of 8 or 9, I had a little to do with at the least my sister learning to write, read, and love reading. I have distinct memories of making up dot-to-dot letters on notebooks for my sister to trace, or practicing letter sounds and breaking those down within words for my friends to string together into the simple text they were trying to decipher. I read my sister bedtime stories, especially when she was scared of the dark and my parents were still on their way home on a late long commute from work. She loved legends and greek mythology, and so of the gods and goddesses we read.

But around that age when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, “teacher” would feel like the wrong answer. “Why not doctor, or lawyer, or engineer?” Never mind that my grandmothers, both matriarchs and the still-standing unifiers in our families, were teachers. Our third world mindset and definition for success needed to point to one of those three directions, or else I was doomed to live a life not at all better or, god-forbid, “worse” than the one my parents worked hard to set for me.

I suppose the inevitable happened. I initially signed up to be on the Commerce School track in college but found my way, no matter how round-about it was, to Education. Volunteer opportunities always revolved around working with children and Mental Health, and funny enough I stumbled upon the 5-year Psychology and Early Childhood Special Ed program in the Curry School that seemed so blatantly fitting for me.

As I tread on, my track itself laid out two paths for me: classroom teaching or community teaching through early intervention. Loving both tracks only complicated my job search, both when I initially started and then when we moved. In fact, up until recently, I was wrestling through an internal struggle, convinced that I needed to eventually choose between the two as I establish myself in my profession. But then it occurred to me, Why not be both?

Being human and inherently always learning and teaching in our own ways, aren’t we all always a student, teacher, and (insert profession here), and (insert family and/or community role here) simultaneously? Within the field of education then, can I not also be a teacher and student and leader and advocate and whatever else I could contribute towards?

As simplistic and cliche as it may sound, I’ve found some power in thinking “I don’t know what I don’t know.” To me, that means that without putting myself out there or seeking and pursuing something, there’s no telling the possible from the impossible. For my friend, Jun had to send out his applications everywhere he envisioned himself living and learning from no matter the uncertainty or possibility of moving from a comfortable life he’s lead for 5 years close enough to home. He’s making a change that’s scary, new, but brimming with opportunity.

I’m coming to find out that to blaze one’s trail could mean laying out a path for yourself that you never thought existed before in order to be true to one’s passion and identity. When I grow up, I want to continue to be an educator and student and an agent of something.  To what end, I have yet to map out and pray for, but I feel positive that I am headed there. For now, as always, I am glad for the journey, these moments of clarity and self-discovery, and the road to being the best version of myself in all aspects of my life.

1 Comment

  1. I appreciate you opening your heart in this touching reflection.

    Life is a learning process. Time and time again we ask ourselves whether where we are in the world right now is really where we want to be. It’s because everything changes continuously.

    Enjoy the journey while we figure out where our ultimate destination will end up to be. And you said you want to be an agent of something…maybe that something is change.

    Keep in touch!


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