I was a lonely child. Not quite a loner, but definitely always the awkward not quite sure where she fit in kid hovering in the background. I had friends, in fact, I had many friends, but I had few that got me, few that wanted to get me, and I wasn’t really sure how to make people want to be my friend. I switched schools several times throughout my childhood and every time I kept thinking that maybe this time was the time I would feel like I belonged. That maybe this move would make my personality change and I wouldn’t be quite as dorky, quite as needy, quite as intense. It never happened but my hopes kept my heart aflutter. I made friends along the way, some I still keep as parts of my life, but each friend was one I battled for, one I really tried for, not one that came easy.
When I moved to Wisconsin permanently at the age of 18, I felt truly lost. My parents and little brothers were here, but I had no one. Not a person to call, to meet for coffee, to go to a movie with. And I had no idea where to start. For my first 3 years here I stumbled along a path, meeting people but not quite making friends besides one. Then I met Brandon and I felt like I was found. For the first time, I didn’t feel so lonely. I didn’t feel that dorky, or needy, or intense. I just felt like I was home. And every day I cannot believe that he chooses me to be his wife. That he chooses me to be there for him. That he chooses me. How this lost kid ever found her soulmate, I am not sure but somehow my heart found where I belonged.
I feel that way when I am in my classroom. When I am among my students and some of my colleagues, I feel home. Like I am with my tribe of people that get me and that I get. I know the rules of friendship, community, and how to build trust. I am needed and wanted. I have a purpose and I fulfill it with all of my heart every day. So as I struggle with whether or not I should continue teaching due to finances, I feel as if my heart is breaking.
I would have never said that I was born to teach. I think I was born to understand, to connect, and to try to help. Teaching lets me do all of that. teaching lets me be a part of someone’s life and make a difference every single day. I never don’t want to go to work, even if I have slept little, am sick, or there is a snowstorm. My work is my home as well and those kids I get to teach are parts of my family. Those people I get to work with are parts of my family. And yet, the state of teaching as a job that pays the bills is abysmal and I don’t know if can keep letting my heart rule how my family is supported.
So I wonder if my path now leads to a new home? Will this teacher find a new place to belong? Or will I leave teaching and be lost like I was so many years of my childhood? Will I leave my tribe only to be without one or is there another one waiting for me somewhere? I know I am not the only one searching for answers, can we find home again, outside of teaching?