Today I sat in the ballroom of a hotel. Twelve years ago I checked into that hotel, unpacked the contents of my previous life in Florida, and readied myself for a new life in Arizona.
Today I attended a writing conference as a middle school English Language Arts teacher. Twelve years ago I started an office job, temporarily abandoning my education degree.
Today I thought about all the stories waiting for me to write. Twelve years ago I was still generating those stories.
Today I felt that I could do anything. Twelve years ago that idea evaded me.
A lot has changed in the twelve years since I moved to Arizona. In the span of a young adult’s life I have grown just as much. My 22-year-old self is unrecognizable to me as I look back. That 23-year-old girl was a child, a girl with very little real-life experience. She couldn’t command a classroom of 35. She couldn’t speak comfortably in a group of people she didn’t know. She couldn’t see a happy life in the desert because she simply could not see the beauty of her surroundings.
I feel confident in saying that change has come. That girl has grown into a beautiful, independent woman. A woman that has started to take risks, to step just outside her comfort zone. She has learned to grow where she is planted and see the beauty that Arizona has to offer. She has learned to be a remarkable teacher with an incredible passion for education.
As I look back I wonder: if I told 23-year-old Sara that things would get better–that she would go on to have a wonderful life–if she would believe me.
Would she believe me if I told her that she would live out her dream and move to England for a short time? Would she believe me if I told her that being in England would change her life? That she would never feel quite complete unless she was walking the busy streets of London, or the quiet cobblestones of Cambridge? That the air and the food and the people would brand her soul leaving her forever bound to that country?
Would she believe me if I told her that she would teach for the next ten years, receive her master’s in English education, and begin teaching middle school? Would she believe me if I told her that she would have students who adore and admire her? That students from previous classes would run up to her, envelop her in a hug, and say they were so excited to have her as a teacher again? That they would tell her about a new book they just finished or shove their stories in her face awaiting her approval? Would she believe me if I told her she would be teaching reading, writing, and Shakespeare? That “If music be the food of love, play on…” would roll off her students’ tongues with ease because she taught them these profound words?
Would she believe me if I told her that she would volunteer at her synagogue, mingling with groups of people she barely knew? Would she believe me if I told her that, while making small talk was still a challenge, she would be willing to task risks and attend social groups alone? That she would engage her peers in discussions of the places she had seen, the knowledge she had gained, and the work she loved.
Time changes a person. You grow, you explore, you learn qualities about yourself you never thought were possible. While change does not come easy, it is a necessary part of life and it is time to start embracing it.