I have been sitting on this idea for a blog post for nearly a year now. The idea and realization that being crushed is absolutely necessary to become who you were meant to be. A year ago, I was crushed. The news was announced of an opportunity for which I was certain my teaching career had thus far prepared me was NOT given to me. I was not hired or been offered a position that was, in my thoughts, meant for me and my journey in the world of education. It was extremely painful. I showed up for my appointment nearly certain I would leave with a smile, a new pep in my step, and ready to set goals to achieve the next year. If I am completely honest, I already had goals in mind. I only had 1% of my mental capacity prepared for the news that I was not chosen, and it turns out, I needed a bit more preparation to accept the news. Have you ever experienced the wind being knocked out of you? I have many times on the soccer field, particularly at a young age. If you have never experienced this sensation, you can’t breathe, and the only thoughts rushing through your mind are “This is how I die.” I am not being dramatic. I experienced this a few more times in my young adulthood when a relationship ended, and I just felt emotional death. One break up in particular, I clearly remember clutching my stomach and chest and feeling as if my thoracic cavity were completely hollow. That feeling had been gone from my recent life for many many years until last year. There is was. I was told the opportunity was not mine. I listened as I was told why I was not being offered the opportunity and it felt like all of my perceived positive attributes as an educator and leader were used as negatives. It felt unfair. It felt insensitive. It felt like I was being cheated. It felt as though everything I had worked to build for the world of education wasn’t important. I wanted to just leave. I wanted to switch careers. I wanted to forget education altogether. I knew I couldn’t, students meant too much. I knew I couldn’t, my passion for teaching wasn’t going to just go away because of this disappointment. I decided to just focus then back on the learning experiences that I would create the next year for my students. I made goals and began structuring and restructuring units of study. That is what good educators do, they always look to improve.
In thinking of how I would improve my students’ experiences in the science laboratory, I thought about what I was lacking as a science educator. My lack of knowledge was field science protocols. I impart upon students the importance of science, data collection, understanding connections in the world and scientific concepts to their everyday life. I teach my students field science protocols and we conduct citizen science projects often, collecting data for crowdsourced sites. The truth though, I had never, outside of this with my students, participated in field science. In order to be a better field scientists, I myself, needed to do this. I applied for an award that would afford me the ability to create my own professional development plan. My plan was to do authentic field science in Bolivia studying climate change through glaciology. In August of 2017, I received the phone call announcing I had won the award. Wait, what? I honestly did not believe when I submitted my essays and PD plan, that this was attainable for me, but I wanted to try. It worked out.
The kicker: I would not have this opportunity, had I been offered the position I had wanted so badly and for which I thought my career had been heading. That crush brought me to this opportunity. Thank you, universe.
In a crazy whirlwind of events, I am actually headed to the Peruvian Jungle and Amazon with a National Geographic Scientist and friend, Andres Ruzo. We will be collecting chemical data on thermal river systems in the Amazon Basin as well as studying biodiversity, species density, and illegal logging activity. Even writing about this now, I need to be pinched. Is this real life?
Yes. Yes it is. And you know what brought THIS amazing opportunity? That crush. That devastation a year ago. I would not have even applied for this had I been offered that position.
You know what else? In November, I applied for another CRAZY idea I had been thinking about: Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. This is a highly coveted and competitive opportunity that was even more of a “this will never happen for me” dream than the previous award.
I got it. In November 2018, I head to Galapagos to study endemic species with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.
Pinch me again. I’ll have another post about that specifically, there is so much to say.
It was all about the crush.
What has crushed you? Haven’t had the crush? Are you even trying? Don’t take this the wrong way, I do not WANT anyone to hurt but I truly believe if you are pushing, dreaming, putting yourself out there to be the best you can in whatever aspect of life it may be — you will get crushed. But that crush will be followed by something better. Something you ARE meant to do or be. . .
Keep dreaming. Get crushed. Get busy living up to your destiny.