Five years ago today. June 7, 2002:
I just graduated high school and I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I still have a job teaching, 22 students, a full studio for a high schooler…or, I guess, a former high-schooler. I’m looking forward to a trip to Spain with 9 seniors, the popular kind. I’ve never hung around with them but I know it’s going to be a great trip.
And then, I’ll have brain surgery. A thing that both scares and bewilders me. Something has been going wrong with my brain for a long time and finally this should fix it. I’m just not sure what to do with myself in the meantime.
But there is Oberlin waiting for me at the end of this summer. A school that, in my father’s mind, has awaited a Highfill presence for years. I know, though, that I have waited for Oberlin more than Oberlin has waited for me.
Last year has been powerful for me. In my senior year, I finally found a group of friends on newspaper staff. I worked my butt off in AP classes, newspaper and auditioning for Oberlin. I didn’t make it into the conservatory, by the way, but I am going to try again once I get there. I also started going to church again. I never thought this would happen, but my whole family is going to church again. I know everyone thinks his or her church is one of a kind. This church IS one of a kind and it changed my life and has brought my family very close. I can’t imagine my life without it.
June 7, 2007:
This is my last official day of teaching at my first teaching job. After five years in school and one semester teaching experience under my belt, I thought I was ready for anything. I wasn’t ready for this, though. I wasn’t ready for the violence, the language, the blatant horror and lack of support. I’m not sure what to do with myself.
I still have to go to work for three more days to sit around and wait for all the other teachers to pack up their rooms. We aren’t allowed to leave until the 12th. I’m thinking of leaving sooner. I’m so unhappy all the time and I’ve fulfilled my obligation to the students. Now, I just have to figure out what I owe to myself.
This last year was a powerful one for me. I learned to survive without my best friends, a task that I will work on for years and that I know I will never conquer. I graduated college. I got a teaching license in Ohio. And then one in Missouri. And then one in Kansas. I moved home. I came back to my wonderful church.
It’s all leaving me frustrated now. I work two jobs, I have a busy summer, and yet I still feel like my eyes are glazed over with boredom. Or maybe it’s some sort of mild depression. Regardless, church politics and district policy have overshadowed two things I love in my life: teaching and God.
The difference is, now I’m feeling lonely in a way I can handle. When I cry, I know I’ll get over it. I can see an end and sometimes, I can even see a solution. But the lack of drama in my emotion is almost more depressing. Before, I let myself be immersed in emotion…I would say things like, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Now, I do know what I’m going to do. I am in no way lost or so lonely I can’t handle it. I’m just in this odd state of mediocrity and there is a severe lack of direction. The things I know I love are jaded or missing from my life. I know exactly where they are but I don’t quite know how to get there.