The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Identity Crisis

As most of you probably know, I recently got a job at Baldwin Elementary in my childhood hometown of Paragould.

Some of you may be scratching your heads, thinking, "I thought she was a print journalism graduate and had her MBA. And she's in an elementary school?"

You wouldn't be alone. You may even be joined by me. Regardless of its unexpected arrival in my life, it is a job in a jobless economy, and I am thankful for it. It may not be what I had envisioned for myself, but the experiences I have and the children I come in contact with will one day have an effect on what I end up doing-- this I know for sure.

The first week of school took its toll on everyone, especially those little kindergarten kids on their own for the first time. Trying to smoothly get them through the lunch line was quite a feat.

A sweet little girl, toting her lunch box, would enter. "What's your name, sweetheart?" I'd ask softly.

Her nose would wrinkle and her smile would slowly fade. "Um...I don't really know," she would respond.

"Who is your teacher?" I'd say, attempting to get some information on where she should go.

"I don't know," she'd say nonchalantly, as if insight into who you are and where you should go was simply a formality.

This continued for most of the day. Boys, girls, no one knew who they were. Occasionally, I'd throw out, "Smith?" and the boy would nod with a burst of enlightenment, "Oh yeah! Smith!"

I got to thinking, though-- maybe I'm being too hard on these kids. If I'm being honest with myself, I feel pretty much the same way.

Why do you work at at an elementary school?
I don't know.

Where do you want to end up?
I don't know.

Are you going to be able to pay rent and buy groceries this month?
I don't know.

I have a problem with letting pride get in the way. I want, when people ask me questions, to have a carefully formulated answer. Unfortunately, not many people ask me what my name is anymore. I have that one down now.

But I am trying to put a little bit of me into everything that I do. It may just be a stepping stool, it may just be future writing material, but these "I don't knows" will one day be ever present and understood in my life.

The next time you see me in the grocery store, just ask me what my name is. It's what I'm proud of, it's what I know and it's going to make all of this uncertainty bearable.


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