About Me

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. Shel Silverstein

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Belly-Flop



belly-flop
(noun)
1. an awkward, usually unintentional dive in which the front of the body strikes the water horizontally, the abdomen or chestbearing the brunt of the impact.



Most of you know that I am doing Teach for America, and that currently, I am training in Philadelphia. Our training, also known as "Institute," adheres to the sink or swim method. Who learns how to swim faster (albeit not necessarily more gracefully); the tossed-in-the-deep-end novice or the shallow-end, arm-floaties expert? It's efficient, however, thoroughly uncomfortable. And it's the scariest and most difficult deep-end I have ever jumped into. And I jumped in head-first and landed unintentional-bellyflop style via one of those... "Let me show you my expert dive even though I have never tried diving before." AKA: blind ambition. Did I mention it's thoroughly uncomfortable?

Yet despite my extremely reasonable, well thought-out, and totally applicable metaphor, inner-voice Taelor is still extremely judgmental of recently tossed-in-the-deep-end Miss Russell. In the past two weeks, I have yet to make it through twenty-four hours where I haven't seriously debated if I am capable of providing my students with the education they deserve. The love I have for them already, and the desire need I feel to be the best teacher I can be for them runs so deep that diving belly-flopping in was beyond terrifying. It took every ounce of courage I could find in my heart, and those ounces dissolved the moment they drip-dropped into the ocean of overwhelming I splashed into. But I'm learning to accept that that's okay. Because, I'm swimming. Maybe I'm struggling and haphazardly thrashing, but my head is above water. I'm not sinking.

I am not perfect, but I have blind ambition. I am not perfect, but I have the audacity to overcome the seemingly impossible. I am not perfect, but I do all of this for my students. I am not perfect, but I need to and I will struggle more than I have to in my life so that my students can struggle less in theirs.

I may currently have a very painful, very red belly. And I may be exhausted from thrashing about. And I might will be every single day. But the one thing I refuse to do, even though I'm not a deep-end expert, is play it selfishly safe in the shallow end. Why? Because my students did not get that choice; because my students don't swim in a pool with a shallow end. 


“Growth is possible only if there is imperfection. I would like you to remember again and again, I am imperfect, the whole universe is imperfect, and to love this imperfection, to rejoice in this imperfection is my whole message.” 
Osho

2 comments:

Kimberly Russell said...

To realize you are not perfect and don't have to be not only is one of the most mature and wisest things you can ever learn. It also allows you to approach life from a stance of humility and less fear. The need for perfection adds an unnecessary layer of anxiety to everything and takes away spontaneous abandon! ! You are awesome. Love you

Jess said...

I don't really know you all that well, but that last sentence was so powerful that I feel very comfortable letting you know that I love you for putting these feelings into words, and into such an appropriate metaphor. I doubt that I'm alone when I say that it might just perfectly capture the feelings we are all experiencing right now.