Monday, February 26, 2007

Finding the Path

I've been processing this one for a few days now, I think I'm ready to write about it. It may not make sense, so forgive me.

Being an educator is really exciting. There is something about choosing your audience and giving them the gifts that have been given to you. No matter what I do in the future, I will always remember that my roots were those of someone in education. There are still moments for me though where being that person takes its toll. Being an educator you see is a gift and a 24 hour responsibility. It's about taking moments that could essentially be painful and shifting them, moving them into something that helps people heal and understand.

I found myself in a spot last week, as an educator, that was hard. I was about to sugar-coat it by saying a little hard, but if I'm honest it was a lot hard. I can't really disclose the full details of the incident, but it involved misunderstandings and race and equity and all of those hot button topics that cause emotional reactions in EVERYONE.

I left the room I was in and tried to process things from both the rational and emotional pieces. The things I knew from knowledge and the piece that stung emotionally no matter how much I tried to talk myself down. In a span of minutes, there I was, tears and emotions stuffed into my shoulders and lower back, explaining the difficulties for people of color. As always the lone representative in the room. This was high school for me, college, now my professional and sometimes even my personal world.

Though incredibly productive and beneficial, I gotta tell you, I walked away raw. I left the room feeling alone, isolated and mildly grieving. I held it all together until I left the room. I walked down the street for about a block and only then did I start to cry. It wasn't hurt exactly. It's a little hard to explain.

I wanted to talk to someone who would understand. You see in my dream world, I would have an older latina female, one in management or some education position, that would understand the feelings that I was experiencing. She would tell me it was normal and that she had gone through many similar experiences. She would explain to me how to reconcile the pieces. The ones that make you feel both out of place in a world you launched yourself into and the world you launched yourself out of. I would get books to read, things to think about, ways of looking at the situation that took out a bit of the sting. I would feel at ease because someone would have answers for me. I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was going to be okay.

But on a windy, grey day in San Francisco, as I walked home and scrolled through my cell phone, not a single number that I own, not a single connection that I have, could give me those answers. The grief that this walk home left me, was heartbreaking. It was another moment when I realized that I will have to piece together feedback from many different sources to make due with what I got. Now, I'm not trippin, I get that I'm lucky to even have that. But man, would it have been great to have known someone whose taken the path before me. The older I get and the further into the many beautiful pieces of my life I go, the more frequent I find these spots. No comfort blankets anymore. My parents aren't familiar with my world, they don't know its intricacies and to an extent I think they feel it took away their daughter. The ability to turn to them really ended around the age of 15. And as many times as I may try, since then, it just hasn't fit.

Truth be told, since then, I don't know where I fit. It's like I made myself independent knowing that my path was uncharted waters for most. It's an exciting swim, but what I would give to find a coach that knows most of the terrain and understands, at a fundamental level, what it means to fight this hard for what you want. Even when you haven't identified exactly what it is.

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