this has to be the saddest song of all time.
this has to be the saddest song of all time.
i had a job interview last week… for next school year.
it’s a job i really want but i’m still unsure whether i’ll get it or not. actually, the position itself doesn’t really matter in the context of this experience.
somewhere in between talking about my experiences and wanting to change the world, one of the interviewers asked,
you have all these ambitions for schools and education! i’m curious… what is your ten-year plan? where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
i answered the previous questions quickly, automatic. but at this one i stopped.
ten years? i pictured myself at 40.
honestly? i started. i’m just hoping to find a job for next year. i may end up working at a coffee house and writing my memoir… i have about twenty pages so far.
the two strangers sitting across from me via google hangout laughed.
no, i’m serious. i confessed. asking about my one year plan is probably a more manageable question for me right now.
the next day, i told this story to my colleagues before school started.
you know what you’re supposed to say to that question, right? amy asked, sounding concerned.
i did know the right answer, but i wasn’t going to lie. five years ago i probably would have said something about starting my own school or working for an educational consulting firm or still being a passionate teacher.
but i don’t see those things right now. at least not clearly.
so, i’m moving to a new country. which basically means i will re-start my career. teaching is probably never something you completely re-start, but i’m leaving my organization, my contacts and the context of my work that i’ve existed in for eight years. i’m starting over. i have no idea what opportunities are available for me in a country where i don’t speak the language or even have a basic understanding of their culture or educational system.
and i’m 30. i am recently married and we’ve talked about starting a family. maybe not soon, but given my age, soonish. it’s complicated.
this question of a ten-year plan started me thinking about my career. in my early twenties i was completely career driven, though i realized quickly that the professional ladder of an educator has only a few rungs: teacher, principal/dean, curriculum director, consultant, politician. that’s about it. as i look back now, i’ll admit that i was primarily driven by the prospects of being something.
my classroom back in 2007. note the teaching tolerance free poster sets and my optimistic grin.
i vividly remember my first job fair in san diego, the spring before i moved officially. as i roamed from school to school in my new pinstriped pantsuit (which i proudly still own), all i could think about was being on the other side of the interview table. i wanted to be the one who hired, who made decisions, the one who made other people nervous. ever since then, i’ve strived to become more, to constantly think about my career. it’s not that being a teacher isn’t enough… but somewhere in my mind, i’ve always been determined to move up, to push myself. sometimes too hard and sometimes unfairly. i would stay at school until 9:00pm grading papers, trying to become the best teacher i could be, for my students and for me.
and now, i have no plan.
myself at twenty would have had a ten-year plan. maybe fifteen. she was ambitious and motivated and ready.
to be clear, i have been completely willing to give up my current teaching position in a dream school and move across the world to be with my husband. i’ll own that. but just because i made the decision doesn’t mean i can’t be confused about where that leaves me professionally.
subconsciously, i think i was questioning how much i should invest in a new career (in a new country) when i am planning on having a family. like, what’s the point? i’ve seen so many women leave their jobs to have children and just never return in the same way.
do you think your life will just stop when you have children? kjartan asked as he listened to me ramble about careers and pregnancy and starting over.
maybe i do.
maybe that’s the problem because i’ve come to realize that i still care very deeply about how i spend my time and teaching has become more than just a stepping stone to a higher paycheck or more prestige at a high school reunion. i think all along, i started teaching for students, for impact and for the type of social change that i still believe education is capable of achieving.
whether i get this job or not, i have decided that i’m not done.
so, that’s my new answer to the ‘ten-year’ question.
where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
not done. just, not done.
valentines day sucks.
and it’s not because i’m single or bitter or because i hate love.
i love love.
but valentines day is one of the worst days of the year because of one thing: expectation.
i’ve never had a good february the 14th but i’ve always held out hope. at some point, someone (probably a marketing genius) made us believe that there is one day out of the year where you should feel overwhelmingly special. we try to live up to that expectation by buying things for significant others, placating to the idea that material goods will somehow give us that feeling… of being loved.
unlike most women, i’ve actually never believed that a dozen roses would make me feel anymore secure or special in a relationship. fact: i’ve never gotten flowers for the holiday.
so, where does this dissatisfaction come from?
maybe my pending period.
or maybe (and more accurately) i have to just stop expecting that the things someone else does (or doesn’t do) for me should/will impact how special i feel.
since when did i become so dependent?
dear year thirty,
we’ve only known each other for a few days now… one of which was my birthday. which sucked for the record. maybe it’s because my expectation of turning thirty would include magically finding time to cook every night and actually putting in the effort to clean my dirty laundry. instead, you threw real-life things at me. adult things. things that i thought would be easier now that i had additional years. one thing i’ve learned already about you, is that sheer time does not equal learning. experiences do. reflection does.
in some ways, i’ve really come to embrace you. celebrate you, even! in between saying goodbye to my metabolism and waking up more frequently with hangovers that make me wish i was dead, you’ve brought with you a certain confidence that i didn’t have in my early/mid twenties. it’s developed in the last year.
like the ability to stick both middle fingers in the air and say, fuck it.
i don’t mean this in a completely negative way. you know that i strive to be considerate and i care deeply about what other people think. in my twenties, this ability was arguably a fault. but now (with your help) i can let go of situations rather than spend days agonizing about things that won’t really matter in the long run. i can’t explain how thankful i am for this. i am finally doing the things i want to be doing, no apologies needed.
should i be out with friends rather than sitting in bed watching dexter? fuck it.
now, i don’t use this lightly. i’ve learned that this doesn’t always apply to people. (in the metaphorical sense, not literal.) my twenties have taught me that relationships are the most essential thing to invest in… family/friends/significant others… all of these should occupy the most energy to keep healthy and straight. but there’s also a time when you should say fuck it and move on. it’s a delicate balance and i hope to never have to let go of people again. can you maybe help with that, thirty?
you’ve given me other gifts, too. like a necessary perspective on a work/life balance. in my early twenties, i worked like a fiend. i stayed late, i stressed out all the time about my career. i wanted that promotion or to be recognized and i was willing to do a lot to get it. but now, i just want to be happy. i want to love my job but i also want to love my life. although i have no job beginning in july, i’m not exactly worried. i can work. i’m sure i can even find joy in making lattes for the locals. i’m competent, i’m hard working, i’m not going to freak out. so, thanks for that, too.
thirty, you’ve come with a quiet confidence when it comes to relationships and significant others. i think the bravest thing i’ve ever done is to fall in love and i couldn’t have done that without every single day of my twenties… the good and the bad. i finally know what i want and i’m not afraid to be exceedingly vulnerable in the process to get it.
there are some things i will miss now that you’re here though. like the ability to stay out past midnight and the feeling that i have years to mess around before figuring out my life… for real. i guess both those things are over now, there are rules to follow and adult points to obtain.
actually, no. fuck it. i’ll be a hot mess for as long as i wanna be.
marriage should be a symbol for what your heart wants.
the logistics: kjartan and i are getting legally married next friday (january 17th) at the city hall in san diego. the primary reason for this was to expedite the paperwork and process of allowing me to live in denmark beginning this summer. we are then having a commitment ceremony and celebration (think traditional wedding) on my family farm in august.
thought one: it’s both awesome and sad that kjartan and i can just make an appointment to get married. i have always been pro-gay marriage but i had a conversation tonight that made me realize just how privileged i am to be able to marry the person i love without any legal problems or societal judgement. basically, we say we want to get married, show some paperwork and we can. done. not everyone has this luxury.
thought two: making a wedding guest list is one of the most uplifting things i’ve ever done. i expected to be stressed out about deciding who to invite and who to leave out. but the reality is that i ended up feeling lucky because i have so many supportive and wonderful people in my life. family who i love to see even though visits are rare… friends who i may not talk to every day, but have still left an impact on who i am today. i am so excited to celebrate with people i like and love on august 9th, i just can’t wait.
thought three: ‘just signing the papers’ is beginning to mean more to me than anything else. i guess i’ve always kind of pictured getting married in a different way than most. i used to be afraid of this alternative vision… imagining that i would just run away with someone, even if it was a bad choice for me and get married without really telling anyone. kjartan and i aren’t doing exactly that, but we are getting officially married alone. to be honest, that’s just perfect for me. i want to be able to focus just on him and us and feel every part of what it means to commit to someone else. i don’t want to be aware of my ‘guests’ or if everyone is having a good time or worrying about whether it’s going to rain. i just want to laugh and smile and maybe cry. i want to be selfish and just be. with him.
thought four: it’s hard for me to change my name. i’m in mourning a little bit.
thought five: it feels good to be on the same team as someone else. i’ve been independent for a long time, and although it feels slightly strange to talk about decisions with someone else before i make them, it also feels good. like someone has my back and i don’t have to do everything alone. it’s amazing how good it feels when someone says, how can i support you?
thought six: i actually purchased a book on how to be married. there are questionnaires and worksheets and pieces of advice. i really don’t want to fuck this up so i’m trying to get help where i can.
thought seven: i’m still kind of debating which hand to wear my wedding band on. in american culture, it’s always worn on the left. but in danish culture, it’s worn on the right. i also have my grandmother’s wedding band that i’ve been using as an engagement ring that i don’t really want to stop wearing. this is a dilemma, white-whine, champagne-problem, to have too many rings. we read somewhere that you’re supposed to wear it on your left hand because there is an artery that goes from your heart to your left ring finger. one source said you wear your engagement ring on the left (because it symbolizes love) and you wear your wedding band on the right (because it symbolizes work). i like that. but i’m still wanting the left.
thought eight: i really believe i am going to marry the most perfect person for me. no joke. i waited a long time to meet kjartan… sifted through a lot of guys, endured some bad relationships, believed there was more than just settling for adequate ones. i really can’t imagine being with anyone else for the rest of my life.
thought nine: i’m really excited to go horseback riding in mexico. after the city hall wedding, we are driving across the boarder to la fonda, my favorite mexico getaway. i can’t wait for horses and wine and beach and just time with my new husband.
thought ten: i never thought i would actually want to be a wife, but now i kind of like the idea. yeah, yeah, yeah, i know there are a lot of misogynistic ideas underlying the institution of marriage… treating women as property, making her take her husband’s last name, etc. but there is something special right now about giving a piece of your heart, who you are, to someone else. i want to be a good wife. not by belonging to my husband, but by honoring the partnership, supporting and contributing. and i expect my husband would do the same.
husband. that’s still weird to say and even harder to grasp.
but in 11 days, i’ll just have to.
i love it when he calls me sweetheart.