"You started your new job."
It wasn't a question; it was a statement.
When I went to Buffalo Wild Wings to meet some Warriorland friends for drinks after work last Friday, our regular waitress came up to the table, looked right at me, and said, "You started your new job."
I figured she had figured it out since I had been absent from B-Dubs for the past few weeks, or maybe one of the other girls had mentioned it, so I just laughed it off and said, "Yes I have."
"You look good. I haven't seen you smile like that before."
I was floored. I smile a lot. Quite often, really. Most people would tell you they rarely see me without a smile...and here this woman was, whom I see on a weekly basis for a few hours, who feeds me, saying that she hasn't seen my smile.
I asked her what she meant, and apparently she knew that I was bewildered because she quickly started to correct herself.
"Normally when you come in here, you have this exhausted smile that tells me that it's Friday. You laugh at rude jokes and the dumb things your children do; you don't laugh at happy things. Today, you walk in here and you look like you actually slept last night. You're not growling out your drink order and you gave me a hug when you walked in. You started your new job."
While I waited for my friends to show up, I thought about it--did my last job really turn me into another person? Were my roommates not over-reacting every time they left the room when I walked in the door?
As my Warriorland friends came in, I looked at them. They were smiling, but they truly didn't have any pep in their step. Ten minutes into our conversation, they started raking their hands through their hair as they talked about their students and co-workers. One girl laid her head on the table and said, "I just can't deal with it anymore..."
I have been defeated before. I know the pain that giving up causes; even when you give up because you surely can't hang on any longer.
Did I feel defeated at my old job? Yes, absolutely. But I loved my job...I didn't see how the two could co-exist.
I started thinking about my job here at Wildcat Academy. I have very few complaints about it. But I realized that that constant struggle was no longer there.
I get out of bed now because I want to be here. I have people to really smile at in the hallway. I have a wonderful crowd of support who answers all of my dumb questions and who all enjoy and embrace my creativity. I am so truly thankful that I have started my new job.
I wrote this back in February. Almost four months ago to the day. My feelings about this job hasn't changed. Is this job one of the hardest things I have ever done? Absolutely. Is it really hard work every single day? More than you can imagine. Do I still have a lot to learn? More than I can imagine.
But I still have that support system who makes me laugh now more than before. They listen to my ideas more than they used to. They are still embracing my creativity and I am so thankful to have them.
Yes, there were days that my kids drove me nuts and there were days that I swore I couldn't go back the next day because I was too exhausted and too worn out. But I kept going back. I kept falling in love with my job, and the books that I teach and the kids who I taught and the friends that I worked with.
As this semester is wrapping up, I am constantly reflecting on how this year was been a whole lot of unexpected events. But I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I can't prove it, and I won't stake my life on it, but I think that the biggest reason that so much of this year happened the way that it did w as so that I could get the most out of this crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life.