I went to a theatre education conference a few weeks ago in Milwaukee, and it was life c h a n g i n g. I’m talking, geek-out-so-hard, smiling at the smallest things, awesome. Each day we would get up and there were multiple sessions–blocks of time where you could choose which workshop you wanted to go to–and on day four, I was a part of a session about pre-service teachers. Alongside my fellow BFAs, we stood up and did a small performance that encapsulated what being a pre-service teacher meant to us. After we finished that chunk, we were placed in smaller groups with the professionals in our field, to ask questions and share worries or dreams we have about what we’re studying.
I was in a group with four other pre-service teachers like myself, and three professors from different schools across the nation. All in all, the session was filled with hopes, dreams, tears, worries, and most of all, love. Isn’t it weird how you can meet certain people and they just get you? They understand without long explanations. You see each other and just…rest in comfort. I’m a huge quotes person, so I’m going to share a few quotes that I wrote down from our session that apply to any walk of life.
“If you try to control an outcome, you’ll often make bad decisions because you’re always five steps ahead.”
This is my life. I am constantly trying to figure out how something will turn out. I mean constantly. I am so anxious about how something might or might not pan out, that all I can do is sit there and worry that each decision I make, small or big, will change the outcome of my future. And perhaps in the grand scheme of things, this is true. Each tiny decision does change the outcome. The silly part is that we don’t have set outcomes that we have to reach. There is something grand happening that none of us can control, and why would we want to? That’s so exhausting and overwhelming. I have to remind myself that if I’m living five steps ahead, I am no longer living here, now, with the present. That really gets to me. I don’t want to live five steps ahead anymore, and I’m truly trying not to. I’m honestly going to try to slow down and not focus on the future so much.
” Your heart may know what it wants, but it won’t always know what it needs.”
Oh my. This is so real. If I have learned anything about myself, it is this: I love deeply, passionately, and completely. If I love something, I work for it and devote my all to it. This has been both a blessing and a curse. I yearn for an understanding for why I can love something or someone and why maybe that thing or person doesn’t love me back. The truth is, people just love differently. We’re each made up of these tiny pieces that create a full body of dreams and love, and why would we want to love the exact same way? I can honestly say that this quote came at a time when I needed it most. My heart is set on some big stuff, and that can be really scary. I want and dream about so many things that are ultimately out of my control right now, and maybe forever. The man that said this was talking about how he thought what he wanted most was to teach in a high-school setting, but the first day he taught elementary, his heart overflowed in ways he couldn’t have comprehended, and he hasn’t looked back since. How brilliant is that? He knew what he wanted, but then life sent him down a different avenue and he just…fit.
I think it is so easy to believe that what we want is what we need, but if it isn’t right for us at this point in life, or maybe ever, there’s something beautiful about not receiving what we want. He followed this quote with another profound sentence,
“You may not know what to choose, but life kind of just fixes that.”
This guy Jeremy really knew what he was talking about, and I’m not sure he knew what kind of wisdom he was dropping on us. At this point in my life, with only a year of school left, I’m in a boat with a bunch of other people where we’re all looking for the next step, the next answer. There are so many ways in which our lives could turn out, with different avenues to go down, different options to consider, and different life choices to make. At the end of the day, that can be terrifying and overwhelming. But here’s the thing. Something bigger is happening around all of us. The universe is constantly moving in a way that is outside of our control. We can’t foresee how life will turn out in the next ten years, or even the next ten days. Most days, this is something that keeps me up at night, gives me all sorts of butterflies, and becomes a thing I try to fix. It’s not in my control to fix though. I will make ten wrong decisions before I make the right one, but no matter what, life will continue to go on and do it’s thing each day. The art of letting go will continue to be a work in progress, and I’m okay with that. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know the answers. Maybe we can’t, right now.
“It is important to think of things as a beginning instead of an ending.”
Yes. A million times, yes. Each day is a promise of a new beginning. Even when we wake up covered in anxiety, stress, fear, and doubt, there it is…a new day. A new opportunity to say yes to the things that scare us, to say no to what doesn’t belong in our lives, and to open up our arms to the universe. As someone who thinks of things as endings a lot, I am making it my mission to start seeing things as a beginning, regardless of how fearful I might be. I cannot control how someone sees me, how someone feels, and how the world will move. I can control how I choose to love myself, encourage myself, and live. I can continue to love those that may not understand me. I can continue to work towards this life where the world believes in eight-year olds just as much as they believe in corporate businessmen.
So today, amidst anxiety and fear, I am saying out loud to the world that it will all be okay. Maybe these words will feel foreign or strange coming out of my mouth, but I have to say them. Because I know that for every bad day, I have met ten beautiful people or moments. For every day that a door closed, I have walked into a room of tiny humans and heard the word, “YES!” with so much love and excitement that I was forced to smile. For every person I’ve met that made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing, I’ve met someone that reminded me that my soul matched theirs in a way that neither of us could even comprehend.
Here’s to the all of the times we’ll hear the word yes or the word no; to the bad days and the good; to the fears and the doubts that will almost always be countered with love and opportunity. Here’s to the idea that world is working for and with us instead of against us. How cool is that?