“Teacher….He took cuts!” “Teacher….I don’t get it!” “Teacher, do we hafta show our work?” and my personal favorite…”Duty….He hit me!” (Any teacher who has spent any time on playground duty has been called “Duty” at least a hundred times!)
And then, suddenly, I wasn’t. I had told the school district, “Thanks, but no thanks…” and it was all over. Almost thirty years of being a teacher, reduced to a few boxes of personal textbooks and items from my desk. And while most teachers dream of the day when they can hang it up, that didn’t happen for me. For weeks I found myself looking at the clock and calculating what I was supposed to be doing at that exact moment – time to start my math lesson…time for recess…library time after lunch. When you are a teacher you live and die by the tardy bell, and all of the day’s events are calculated fairly precisely down to the minute. Even though I was no longer a teacher, I would notice children with their parents out in the community during school hours and wonder why they weren’t in school (It’s either parent conference day, or that kid’s skipping school!) And rest assured, if your kid is running in a restaurant or grocery store, I can still stop him dead in his tracks with my very powerful “teacher death stare.” It’s a gift. But after about two dozen times of explaining to friends and acquaintances that I “used to be a teacher,” or the I had “retired early from teaching,” it hit me pretty hard:
What Am I Now???
Yup, I was going through what I call a “retirement identity crisis.” What are you when you stop doing what you’ve always done? Why is it that we label “what we are” with the job title that we hold – Tom’s a lawyer, or Ted’s a plumber. I’m here to tell you that after I gave up teaching, I had lots of time to clean and organize my house. The place positively sparkled…and then I started thinking, “I’m just a char woman!” …WAIT JUST ONE DAMN MINUTE!
Who we are and what we do are not the same thing! Or…are they???? And then it occurred to me that I am, in fact, a teacher at heart. I will always be a teacher. My passion for helping others understand is at the very core of my soul. With that in mind, I started evaluating my personal strengths and weaknesses. How could I apply those same skills to the next phase of my life. How could I use my teaching skills in the Encore Voyage? I have a wicked red pen…I am a grammar nerd and a data hound…I love to write…I organize all those around me…I’m not easily rattled…I have a quest for knowledge. Along with this blog, I’m starting to cultivate these skills into some pretty neat second acts. And I’m learning that if you have a passion for something, you never really retire. You change course – shift directions – start an Encore Voyage.
So how about you? Have you stopped to evaluate your innate skills in looking forward to the Encore Voyage in your life? Leave a comment below to share your story!