I’m not bubbly. That doesn’t mean I’m not cheerful, happy, optimistic, or kind. It does not mean that I am rude, inconsiderate, or mean. In fact, I’m often complemented on my kindness and empathy towards others. I simply outgrew a lot of the characteristics I held as a child. I stopped seeing the world through a child-like lens at a point in my life. I don’t mean to suggest that bubbly people are childish. They simply have an ability to see things the way that children see them. Being bubbly is a great characteristic. Being around such people makes me feel as though I can shelve my problems and treat myself. Bubbly people remind me that I need to take care of myself. Their smile is contagious. Their presence in this world is vital.
But, the presence of people like me in this world is also vital. I am approachable. My smile may not be as contagious, but my presence is calming. I may not be the one who pops a bottle of champagne to numb the pain, but I will talk it through with you at any hour of the day. Your burdens don’t weigh heavy on me. The need for people like me is just as important. A just balance in this world is a beautiful thing.
When we continue to pretend to be someone we are not, to wear masks, and convince ourselves that we are different, we lose sight of the beauty we already possess. We live our lives being punished just for being ourselves. This was my story. As a classroom teacher, I pretended to be a different person on a daily basis. Living a lie drained me of every ounce of energy I had. Every day, the weight of the world became heavier and heavier.
For the entirety of my career, I’ve been punished for being who I am. For not singing enough, for not smiling enough, for not crafting enough. I’ve never been thanked for listening more, being more perceptive, being more organized, or being more on task than most other teachers. My second grade class knew fifth grade level vocabulary words. But, the world of education doesn’t value that. They value fake smiles and coloring sheets. They don’t value student behavior. They value the extra curricular that a teacher can take on.
I gave myself permission to admit what I’m not and value what I am. There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with my work performance. I’m just not what our education system looks for in a teacher. I am, however, what many other people look for. I’m hardworking, dedicated, and focused. I’m serious, understanding, patient, yet quick to finish tasks. I like to do, not to lead. I like to tuck children into bed, kiss them goodnight, make them sandwiches, watch TV, read them books, and listen to their ideas. I don’t like to give them worksheets, grade their papers, or monitor the volume of their voice. I love teaching children about God, His promises, and help them find joy in the person God made them to be. I don’t like teaching them reading, math, science, and social studies. I like to interpret their behavior and help them find meaningful alternatives to poor choices. I don’t like moving their name up and down on a clip chart.
I can’t think of anything more exhausting than faking “passion” for so long. I hate being a classroom teacher. That’s okay! There’s many other things I love. I love administrative tasks. I love counseling. I love helping. I love hard work. I love writing. I love music. I love children! There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just not a bubbly person.