For years now, I have been discerning becoming an English teacher, and I recently began my group of prerequisites. As I delved into both American Literature and Cultural Communication, something happened to me. It was as though I were standing in front of myself and always had been. I walked forward and was whole.
I was the student who took both Creative Writing and AP English even though they were at the same time. I was the student who poured ten poems out of my head after finishing a report on Emily Dickinson. I was the student who began a B.A. in English at my first university. I was the student who wrote stories, poems, and songs above anything else. But somehow, I forgot. Now, as I began to study, something in me recognized myself.
I am who I have always been.
As we mature, we unfold and become more and more ourselves. We grow in security and courage. I know that sometimes we don’t feel this; we feel less ourselves and grow in insecurity and fear. This can be a response to cruel experiences or even a way of life that focuses our moments on busyness over and over until we forget ourselves. Yet who we are is still in there, deepening.
Who I was, and still am, isn’t simply around one topic as it isn’t for any of us. I was also the little girl who told her dad, “Look at this! Look at this!”, the bob-haired kid who loved to make children laugh, the teen whose favorite thing was to wade in the ocean or conquer rocks on a river.
I have continued to delve into those other amazing things that are also me. But the part of me to which writing is first and foremost – I somehow forgot her. It may be because teaching, and teaching English, run in my family. I wanted to be my own person. Ironically, coming back to it is where I feel whole. I can sense myself being planted in the earth. I feel like English ivy attaching to an ancient wall. It is a coming home.
People are interested in personality theory; it is a clue as to who we are. People are excited about ancestry testing; it is a clue as to where we come from and ties to an ever-deepening past. People are watching the shows they watched as a child, visiting playgrounds and climbing-trees, collecting former toys. People care about these things. They ground us somehow.
Who am I? Where do I come from? These are huge questions. And both of them can be answered in part by exploring this one: “Who was I?”
We are who we have always been. We can see insights into brilliant and delightful aspects of ourselves when we look at our past. And we can feel roots – stable, interesting, secure, connected.
What did you love as a child? Can you go there again? There is a peace that I am finding in studying literature and returning to who I have always been, yet gaining more depth. Maybe there will be the same peace for you too.
May God bless your day.