I am an educator; I always will be. Nine years ago, my 22-year-old self walked into an empty classroom unsure how to access a grade book, how to organize a successful seating chart, or how to even turn on my projector! Nine years ago I walked into the unknown, a new beginning, with butterflies in my stomach and nightmares of second guessing myself. I started a chapter without a first draft, without a pencil in hand, without even knowing how it would end. But in exactly nine days, this chapter will end.
In nine days, I will be closing this chapter of my life to start writing a new one. A chapter filled with butterflies, with an open heart, with an open-ending (once again). For the past nine years, I have identified as a Spanish teacher/Instructional coach, and now, for the next five years, nine years, twenty years (who knows), I will be “re-identifying” myself. But…will I really?
I have spent a lot of time (probably too much) really pondering the thought of closing this chapter of my life and searching for this ‘new’ identity. Closing this chapter has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life; but, why? Is it entering the unknown, out of my comfort zone? Is it letting go of my identity? Is it saying “see you later” to the relationships I have built? Is it the fact that starting over is hard?
Quite frankly, it is a combination of it all! If I were to say I’m not terrified, petrified, and completely clueless, I would be lying to you. I am taking a leap of faith into the unknown. We have placed a label, as society, on the unknown as a horrible, scary place. Yet, what is there to be scared of? Without taking these leaps, there is no stretching oneself. There is no personal or professional growth. There is no telling what your limits are.
After three weeks of wandering — on the trails, in my mind, in conversation — I have smiled at the thought of closing this chapter and beginning a new one. I refuse to limit myself; I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I refuse to re-identify myself; my past is just as important as my future. I refuse to run from the unknown; the unknown will only make me stronger.
A chapter closed does not mean it is forgotten. You can’t finish a chapter without first beginning. The pages do not go untouched. The characters do not become a figment of the imagination. The written words are your laughs and tears; your smiles and sighs. Those chapters are real. They are genuine. They are pure.
It is my hope to educators and students, to world travelers, to authors and poets, to athletes and musicians…whoever you might be…that you smile at the thought of starting a new chapter. Nerves are normal, fears expected. The book is meant to go on. There’s meant to be laughs and tears; plot twists and cliff-hangers; and in the end, we are all meant to turn the page and continue on.