We live in a world that’s constantly trying to change us, and maybe not purposefully — maybe not even maliciously — but nonetheless, it’s always trying to do it. Every synapse that fires in our brains and every new thing that provokes our minds changes us, turning us into the dynamic beings that walk out our front doors every day.
And every day, when we walk out that door, we walk out different people.
As I come to almost a half-year of living in a new city and in a new place, I can’t help but relax into a state of pensive reflection, one where I think about who I used to be, who I hope to be, and who I am right now at this very moment. It’s quite a culture shock to pick your life up and take a leap of faith on, well… yourself. But that’s what I did. I moved across the country with only myself to depend on, and once I did that, the gravity of my decision weighed heavily on me, sending me back millions of years in human history to some of my most basic survival instincts.
Anxiety washed over me, and I felt like I was constantly in fight or flight — constantly trying to navigate my way through new situations and second-guessing my every move. I came from a different place, and now enough months have elapsed to the point where I can say it was a different time, too. In fact, as I think about the sheer terror of a move like that, I cannot help but think of what it’s like for kids — especially my current students — most having come from different schools and different areas of the city, knowing no one, and having to stake their claim in a new classroom with a new bunch of kids and several new teachers who, little did they know, were also finding their way, too.
But it seems like it’s always this time of year that things settle in — that we start to really know each other, that we start to get comfortable…
That we start to feel like a family.
And I know that, because I’ve started to see parts of my students and my co-teacher in each other, I see parts of all of them in me. After all, isn’t that what a family is? A unit of people that share common experiences, that possess exclusive commonalities? But none of this could have happened — none of it could have flourished in the way that it did — without the fight, without the temptation to fly away, and without the resilience to be vulnerable, let ourselves be seen, and turn ourselves inside out for all to see.
In fact, whenever we go to a new place — when we encounter a new experience — we can’t help but turn ourselves inside out. If we don’t, then we cannot possibly be open to new experiences; we cannot possibly let the newness of an ever-changing and dynamic world mold us into something new. We can neither change for the better, nor change for the worse and then learn from it. When we put up our walls, when we don’t take the time to second-guess ourselves, and when we’re too confident in what we do, we rob ourselves of the ability to truly test our morals and beliefs and make a conscious choice to keep the things we love about ourselves. Without being tested, we can never be sure that we’re choosing ourselves out of want.
In fact, without being tested, we choose ourselves only by default.
Picking myself up, going outside my comfort zone, and turning my world upside-down, I’m starting to see, was one of the best things I ever did. It scared the proverbial crap out of me, it highlighted each and every one of my insecurities and flaws, but it’s also starting to show me that I can depend on myself, trust in my beliefs, and most importantly…
It’s showing me that, when all else fails, I can choose me.