This past year when people ask me what I'm doing, and I say, "substitute teaching," I get a lot of interesting responses. Sometimes I try to defend my answer, but lately I've realized no one can really understand why at this moment in time I need to be a sub.
It may not be the right thing for others, but it's exactly what I need. It's part of my lesson plan because subbing contains all the things I need to push myself into uncharted emotional territory. It's breaking down my barriers to love and tearing apart all the ways I've adapted to the fear of uncertainty -- imaginary walls I created as a child to protect me from getting hurt.
- I can't over plan to avoid disaster because I don't know what the plan is until I show up.
- I can't hide out in my safe introvert world because the kids need me to be there for them.
- I can't do everything myself as a way to avoid receiving help because my students know more about their class than I do. They're my best resources for making the day successful.
- I can't duck out of conflict and criticism because kids need me to model healthy solutions.
- I can't slip into my rigid routines because every day I need to adapt to a unique environment so as to develop group trust and safety.
- I can't use my introversion as an excuse for avoiding relationship because kids are a constant landslide of wanting me to know them and to know me in return.
- I can't design the perfect day in my head to combat my fear of failure because every day is a free-fall into living moment by moment.
- I can't hold onto petty resentments because it's becoming increasingly easier to see every kid's cry for love and forgiveness in all that they do.
- I can't let my ego get caught up in the fantasy of being a great teacher because hands down kids are doing a way better job at teaching me how to be more alive.
- I can't avoid the joy of attachment and the pain of letting go because each day I meet a new group of students I can't help but love and then have to say goodbye to at the end of the day.
This is the hardest emotional work I've ever done. For me, it feels like a PhD in a kind of love that's blowing up my heart to gigantic proportions.
I don't know why I couldn't go the normal route: career, marriage, and kids. All I know is that this was the way I was suppose to receive a lesson of love. Like a bomb going off in my heart this was the best possible design for me to understand love in a way that will completely change me.
It's my spiritual journey, and if I keep following my soul's plan designed by something greater than myself then I trust everyone's going to benefit.
We all have the best life lesson plan laid out for us. If it seems bizarre or difficult, perhaps it's because you need a bomb going off in your heart to break down barriers and help it sink in.