Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before.

I picked up a hitchhiker today with a beautiful Spanish accent. She chatted idly about the lack of snow and told great stories about her first American job. She had to hitchhike there and one afternoon, she couldn't find a ride home.
"It was my fault," she added.
"How was it your fault?"
"It was my energy. I probably was invisible to the drivers because I was so angry I couldn't see."

We laughed together. But it reminded me of teaching and where I've been these past few months: so angry I couldn't see.

Long story short, teaching made me cry happy tears all last week, gave me a new sense of purpose, and kind of let me feel like I have it all figured out, somewhat.

My principal brought up the possibility of me co-teaching general education English. I didn't see this coming, but it led me to remember filling out my grad school application to become a high school English teacher. Instead, I chose special education and although I don't regret that decision, four years later, here I am with the opportunity to do what I first wanted to do so very badly, but in middle school.

It immediately changed all of my plans. This exit strategy that I've been carefully crafting for months crumbled instantly. All of the perks of my second job, coffee-tasting afternoons, possible work trips to Hawaii, social media for a living, suddenly lost all its meaning. I fell in love with teaching again and everything has been different.

A new student of mine, who is an A/B student in my resource English/Language Arts class, proudly showed me his grades during our weekly grade check. Not surprised, I congratulated him quickly in an effort to check all 11 of my students' grades.
"No, Ms. Ronau, you don't understand. Look."
I stopped and let him show me. He scrolled up to the top and showed failing grades in the previous quarters. Literally straight Fs.
Knowing his history and being responsible for his evaluation and IEP, I joked, "No way was that you!"
He remained serious and pointed to his name next to the grades.
And then, shaking his head back and forth with a pause, he added, "You changed my life."

Every time I think of that moment, I immediately cry, because I had absolutely no idea. It blew me away and still does. But it also made me realize how many other moments I've missed as I've been wishing away this "last year of teaching." How many times has a student said something amazing and I missed it because of my apathy towards this time in my life? Probably a lot.

It's amazing what happens when you honestly let teaching affect you, all over again. It's amazing what happens when you just decide to be. here. now.

I know. I've been here before. I've said this before. I've even felt this before. And believe me, I still haven't forgotten Danny. I still haven't forgotten some of the craziest teaching days involving thrown chairs, suicide attempts and multiple screaming students. Teaching is literally one of the hardest things I've ever done, but instead of trying to run away from the hard, I've decided to try and accept it as part of the process. You are going to be stressed out and cry and want to quit, and then you're going to have a co-worker that is really good at making you laugh and you'll have one too many coffees and a student will blow you away. And if that doesn't work, it's time to learn how to cope with stress effectively. I am learning the true meaning of balance: having the right amount of time for your career, your relationships with family, friends and yourself and a whole lot of having fun.

So you want to know a really big secret that no one ever ever tells you, ever?
There is literally nothing to figure out.
That is not why you're here. That is not your job.

The best thing that we can all do, especially the over-thinkers and the sensitive ones, is balance out our lives. If we are stressed out at work, it's time to focus on relationships and fun. If a relationship is bumming you out, it's time to plan a killer lesson plan on polar bears. Because in the end, if any part of your life is out of balance, it might still be fun. Like if all you do is hike for fun, that's probably awesome. But it could be even better with people to share it with and a job that you don't mind doing. And as long as we're doing our best to pay equal attention to ourselves and the ones we love, with a priority on fun, the universe will guide us to where we need to be. It's really true.

All of this stress and pressure I've put on myself to find the perfect job, to do what I "love" has lead me in one giant circle. I could be mad about it but I've honestly found so much value in this journey. I'm so much better for it. I asked a question I was afraid to ask and I received a very clear answer.

Question: "What am I supposed to do?"
Answer: "You're already doing it."

Just because I don't get paid to blog doesn't mean I'm not a writer.
Just because teaching is super hard sometimes and I resent that doesn't mean I'm not a teacher. It doesn't mean I'm not supposed to be a teacher.
I'm both. There is room for this and more. And that's better than okay.