I have tried explaining to my husband how a typical day at my jobs is. Being a teacher is anything but normal and so exasperatingly different than the movies. I know I’m in the minority when I admit this—but I intensely dislike movies or TV shows that feature teachers. I laugh like anyone else, but inside I’m rolling my eyes scoffing at how unrealistic the portrayal is. Don’t get me wrong, I love Freedom Writers just as much as anyone. I cry at the end and feel for the characters but… as high school teacher who has a room full of 40 kids for an hour, five separate times a day…teaching is truly like having 40 tabs open on your browser.
Let me break that down further with a very brief, basic description of the first 45 minutes of my work day.
7:30: arrive at work, students start shuffling in wanting to talk about their feelings, family, weekend, friends, grades, or about nothing at all while I try and chug my second cup of coffee, write my standards and objectives on the board, put on my killer music playlist for the day, make sure I have enough copies made for my 200 kids, make sure the lesson plan is open and ready to go, check emails for any announcements, use the rest room because lord knows when I get to go again. This is assuming nothing comes up like traffic, the copier breaking down, spilling my coffee, forgetting my keys, the internet being down, or getting caught up in a conversation with other teachers and forgetting what time it is.
8:10: The bell rings, signaling the moment to put my game face on. From this point until lunch time, I don’t sit down and hear my name more than 200 times. That is not a lie—200 times. Sometimes, I think I hear my name being called when it in fact, it isn’t. I hear that is the sign of a healthy mind (so at least I have that going for me)
8:11: Now I have 40 teenagers ranging from 14 to 18 years old. You have the chatty Kathy’s, the ones who are already checked out and it’s only February, you have the over-achieving Hermione’s (who make me smile because they are fantastic), the ones who listen to music so loudly that they don’t realize they are rapping so everyone can hear them, then you have the ones who show up late with coffee, the ones who don’t have pencils, and the ones who aren’t quite awake. (I mentioned it was early and these kids don’t pound the coffee like I do).
So, why do I write?
Because it’s calm.
Because it’s quiet.
Because I can control the environment.
And, because my students are the best and constantly show me the good in the world. Someone once told me that leaving work (as a teacher) should leave you motivated, inspired, and passionate. I see these kids work hard toward their goals and go after what they want. It is inspiring and motivates me to do the same. I will always be an educator at heart, but writing is my passion. I preach every single day to do what makes you happy, so I finally listened to myself and began following that hidden dream.
Do you write? Do you have a hidden passion you want to follow?
I have always been an instant-gratification type of person. When I work out for a week, I expect results and when they aren't there, I get annoyed. It is so easy in our society with all the advanced technologies for food services, taxis, groceries, and anything you could imagine on the internet. I wanted to become a writer in third grade after drawing an amazing photo of our family's black lab Monet and myself hanging out in my bedroom. I won artist of the month and pretty much knew the image would be a best seller.
Flash forward-- it wasn't. The slow, aggravating, wonderful, and tenacious process of writing is worth every single tear, drop of sweat, and swear word. I finished the first draft of Let Life Happen three years ago. I'm going to be honest-- it was awful. The characters were "eh," the story was "blah," and the dialogue felt awkward as hell. I rewrote it, then rewrote it again, and then found an amazing editor who helped shape all my thoughts into the story that I have fallen in love with. Jenna and Aiden were in my mind, swirling around and desperately needed to get onto the pages. They were bold, loud, colorful in the best ways, and finally have their story.
Pressing "publish" to put the story out for the rest of the world is terrifying--unlike anything I have ever done. I stand in front of 200 teenagers every single day with sullen attitudes and rolling eyes, yet this is tough. So, I press publish with the knowledge I worked as hard as I could, have zero regrets about their story, and know that chasing a dream doesn't have to make sense to everyone else around you. So, if you're here reading this, thank you. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it and hopefully you'll be back here soon.