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Teacher as Writer as Teacher as…

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Describe myself as a writer. Who thought up that assignment? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to describe myself as, oh, I don’t know—a circus performer? A lion tamer, perhaps? How about my former life as an Egyptian princess? Anyone? Anyone?

I am a writer. I’ve always been a writer, a storyteller. As a child I orchestrated elaborate skits based on my younger brother’s Spiderman comics and my Elvis Presley Live at Madison Square Garden album. By junior high I was writing my own scripts, but then high school arrived with bad poetry and the scripts took a back seat until college.

I am a teacher. It was never something I aspired to, but it fits around my shoulders so comfortably that I can’t stand the thought of taking it off. I fell into teaching by the happiest of accidents. I returned to college as an adult with every intention of getting a degree in business, but as fate would have it I wandered into a World Lit class one January morning, and by the end of that first class my fate was sealed. The instructor had such a passion for what he talked about. His joy was mesmerizing. I wanted to be just like him, and I knew accounting wasn’t going to bring that glow to me.

These days writing and teaching are interwoven in such an intricate pattern that to pull the threads apart would ruin the pattern that is my life. But it took me a long time to realize that. For so long, I struggled with the question- am I a writer who teaches, or a teacher who writes? There was, in my thinking, a difference.

Today, a colleague stopped by my office to ask me a question. As we talked, she said to me, “I walked by your class today. You looked like you were where you belong.” She’s right. I am. I have come to realize and embrace the idea that life isn’t about choosing to be one thing, but about embracing everything for which my soul yearns. Who knows—maybe someday I’ll even be a writing teacher who tames lions in my spare time.

It could happen.


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