The first time I remember having certainty about something about myself was in the 6th grade. My teacher was Mrs. Grimm, a caring and respected woman in her mid thirties who I recall wearing glasses, even though she didn’t, simply because she seemed so wise. One day Mrs. Grimm went around our class asking us what our favorite colors were. Our classroom was one of the few in our 50-year-old Catholic school that had white boards. I distinctly remember her pointing at me quizzically with a dry ease marker and asking me what my favorite color was. I didn’t immediately have an answer because it was honestly something I hadn’t thought about in a while. She was a patient woman, but I knew the rest of the class was waiting and I felt the pressure to answer weighing down on me. My mind skimmed over the colors of the rainbow, and then to the color pink, which I knew I had claimed as my favorite as a five-year-old. No, not pink, I thought quickly. I remember thinking about what color made me feel like me. “Red!” I finally blurted out, after what felt like a whole school day. As Mrs. Grimm wrote it on the white board next to my name, I realized that it was true. Red was my favorite color! Excitement danced inside my heart and clarity in my head as I gazed upon the board at an enduring detail I had uncovered about myself.
Last year at my old teaching job I didn’t feel as confident about my decision to be there as I did the day I chose red as my favorite color. I loved teaching, but doing it meant I wasn’t able to follow what was really in my heart. I wasn’t feeling found there, I was feeling more and more lost. What encouraged this feeling was the fact that the people I worked with acted like they liked me to my face, but weren’t the same behind my back. Convinced that I would get them to like me, I spent much of my time around them trying to prove to them that they should. Towards the end of the school year I knew that I couldn’t stay in that situation any longer. My heart was unsatisfied, but what was almost as unbearable was the fact that I felt so off balance in life. My days were filled trying to work towards a futile goal, the approval of others, and I never quite had the right mindset to enjoy my other passions.
The decision to quit my job was hard, terrifying really, but I know in my heart that this is what is right for me. Writing and surfing are like the color red to me; they make me feel like myself, they make me feel found.
Further entries about this subject can be found here.