Today was the first day of school. It felt different. I didn’t have the random 2-2:30 am wake up that I normally have at the start of every – my clear indicator of nerves. I didn’t spend the previous night deciding what outfit would make me look professional and jazzy – an ideal I wanted conveyed to my students. I didn’t try to fall asleep earlier than I have been all summer – which, granted, has been earlier than the 4 to 5 AMs of summers past. I ate my final piece of birthday cake (yo…that thing was good. Pretty…and good), drove back to my side of town, watched tv, and laid it down for the night.
As I got to work 5 minutes early, I didn’t feel the intimidation of several new faces. I didn’t even freak out when I saw that my classes were bigger than they normally are for this time of year (I don’t teach at a traditional high school). When the copier broke down, I just created a plan B. I clarified certain things with my administrator with my heels clacking all the way. New and newer teachers sought me out to ask last minute questions, compliment my outfit choice, or to help them calm down. It was then I realized something: I was a veteran.
I remember when Carrie met her mentee Laurel Harris and how all of her questions and enthusiasm, while sweet, seemed worlds away from the life she understood (Season 2, “Twenty-Something Girls vs. Thirty-something Women”). She seemed awed by Carrie’s confidence that had developed over time, fascinated by the ease with which she met new people, and just generally wanted to be in her presence. Laurel painted Carrie’s toenails, shared her idealized (though non-practical to Carrie) views on relationships, and gushed over her clothing. Carrie’s regular happenings were news to this bloomer. She probably didn’t realize how much time had passed since she herself had been in the phase where Laurel resided until there was someone reminding her daily that it seemed extraordinary.
That’s how I felt today. People came to me just to ask how I relate to students. Students who’d already been to my class were saying in other classes that they felt I’d be their favorite. They wanted to know how I “did” me. I realize now that this is the confidence that comes over time as you do what you’re called to do. Sometimes it comes out as remarkable to those just wading in their calling. And I feel honored. Honored that they see or saw something in me that they wanted to know more about. Soon…they too will be veterans, and the cycle will start again. I’ll wish them well!
For any teachers reading, I hope you have a wonderful school year!
P.S. I told you my cake was pretty! (He did good :-) )