Sunday, August 21, 2011


I've learned a lot of things about myself in the fifteen months since I graduated into the real world. For one thing, now I know why they call it "the real world." I knew college was a bubble, but that's not what people seem to mean when they said it's not "real." It's just different because it's full of safe spaces and people giving you multiple opportunities to learn. Post-college, nobody constructs safe spaces for you and nobody gives a shit what you learn. Anyway, I digress. I digress a lot these days. My own mind is like a train station. Things rattle in and rattle out. Shut up. Mind.

I used to think I'm ambitious. defines "ambition" as "an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame or wealth." This confuses me. I have an earnest desire, but don't particularly want power, honor fame or wealth. I mean, they'd be nice. But I don't especially care. The desire and earnestness are in other directions.

People don't think I'm ambitious anymore. I say I work at a school and I get the Look, the quick appraisal of everything I am. Everything I am is supposed to be: unaccomplished, unexciting, unqualified, unable to find a better job, in it for the easy hours, waiting to get married. I don't blame anyone, really. That's what education has come to in this country. To care about it is to announce your credentials as a bored (soon-to-be) housewife who's doing it for the pocket money and emotional rewards. Well. Whatever. I can deal with that.

What I Want is to live my life. I don't know why it took so long for this realisation to arrive, but here it is. I want to live my life. I want to inspire and be inspired. I want to try new things and make mistakes and break my heart and learn again. I want to fly to another city on a moment's notice because I feel like seeing my grandparents, without taking leave from anybody. I want to finish reading all the history books in my room. I want to be the happiest, most educated and serenest version of myself. Excuse my language but I don't give a fuck if you think education is beneath me. You probably think being ambitious means wanting things. Well, I want Things too. The difference between me and you is that I will teach and learn on my way to getting them and you'll spend your whole life racing to an imaginary finish line.

In first grade, my teacher asked some question about plants, I don't remember it anymore. Everyone answered one way, I answered another. It was nothing important and I was wrong. My teacher took me aside and said well done, you stuck to what you believed even when everyone else was saying something else and I was as proud as a five year old can be. There's a reason I still remember that. Teachers matter. I might not stick around in a school forever, but I will never look at my highly-paid, professionally qualified friends and I wish I was a little more everything. I'll never save or defend lives, I'll never build anything you can touch and I probably won't ever be able to afford a beautiful house. My job doesn't take years to earn and impresses nobody. I admit this annoys my fat ego. But at the end of the day, no matter where I work or don't work, I'm committed to creating safe spaces and opportunities to learn because I don't believe in the real world after all.


Anonymous said...

can't help but wish there were more teachers like you. people in it for themselves not because they're bored or need money or because it seems easy etc etc but people who WANT to do the job. i think you're automatically better than a lot of professionals.

Anonymous said...

Sarah , really like your passion about teaching, we as a country need more people like you , but we should not be harsh on people who want to achieve material things in life , after all if we dont have people like these, the developed world we have right now would not have existed

s.e. said...

I agree. I don't think we should be harsh on people who want material things, I think we should be harsh on people who judge others for measuring others' lives by financial success. And on another note, greed and power are the two things that have driven all of human history, whether in a positive or negative direction. It's inevitable, but doesn't make it admirable.