The Thing No One Tells You About Having a Dream

I’ve had someone laugh in my face and tell me I would never make it. I have been compared to another teacher, and told that I would never amount to her, no matter what I did. I have been asked if I, “enjoy unemployment,” and if I just don’t love myself enough to, “do something more.”

When someone asks me why I want to teach, I almost always tell the same story: I’ve only ever wanted to be two things in my life: when I was about 3, I wanted to grow up and become a giraffe. When I turned about 5 and realized that I couldn’t, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. 

The truth of it has never changed. Yet, as I got older, I started to feel that teaching was within me. It was a passion I was born with. It existed in the core of my being and in the essence of who I am.

You see, I didn’t choose this life. This life chose me.

I’ve spent my entire life, or the majority of it, anyway, wanting to teach. I knew I had a goal, and I knew it would take me years to get there.

Recently, I stumbled upon a notebook where I kept notes about my teachers. I’m talking notes from 2nd grade Mollie, on. Notes about how I, “really liked that she did this,” and “when I’m a teacher, I will never do this because I hate it.”

I’ve spent my life focusing on what I should and should not do because, “I want to be a teacher.” I’ve sat in desks and tried my hardest, making sure my grades were high enough so I could keep going and be a good educator. I wanted to be able to look at my students and tell them I tried my best in school. Not only that, I wanted to mean it. Often, I repeat the same words: I am not in the business of BS-ing. I don’t BS my friends, and I certainly will not BS my young people.

There are a multitude of people that have tried to stop me, out of care or otherwise, whose efforts have been futile. The people that have tried to stop me because they care, I understand. They want me in a profession I can better succeed. They want me in a profession I am treated better, one with more monetary gain, smooth pathways, and gratitude.

Those that have tried to stop me have really just tried to stand in my way. I’ve had someone laugh in my face and tell me I would never make it. I have been compared to another teacher, and told that I would never amount to her, no matter what I did. I have been asked if I, “enjoy unemployment,” and if I just don’t love myself enough to, “do something more.”

In regards to wanting to teach communication, theatre, and drama, I have again, been treated like a joke, and have had my hopes and dreams of graduate school scoffed at. I have had adults, in my own profession, ask me if I was interested in anything else, like history, english, or math, because something “more respectable” would serve me better.

The road has not been easy, but it has now been completed.

Mollie who was 3 years old with her dream that seemed so far-fetched, made it. She made it through pre-school, kindergarten, and 8 years of private school that included three losses in her immediate family and becoming an aunt. She endured almost 2 years of being bullied by her classmates, and the futile attempts to get it to stop. Even so, she came out of 8th grade blaming no one but those that caused her the pain.

After private school, a time that felt like it would never end, she buckled down and walked into her first public school with her head held high. When her parents asked if she wanted to continue with private school or switch to public, then 13-year-old Mollie, still holding the same dream, demanded public school. Because she was going to be a teacher, she needed to know what public school looked like, too. When she shared this reasoning with her parents, they looked at her in awe, and agreed to her decision.

Those four years of public school included a 4.0 GPA, an anxiety disorder, and a situation that doctors called a tumor but was really just glasses, (a story for another time). It included state testing, depression, school dances, a run for Class President she would win, and two AP classes and tests she would not receive college credit for.

The end of those 4 years included the application to her dream school, and the chance to compete for a full-ride that she would totally bomb. Undergrad would lead to her introduction to the passion she held for theatre, her first stand-up comedy routine, and her first job working with students.

Undergrad would lead to many life-changing experiences, as it does, but she would finally come out of her college career with a degree in hand, and the piece of paper she had always yearned for: her teaching certificate.

Here I am, nearly 24 and with “the dream” 3-year-old me had, one step from completion–employment. In a couple of days, I will have been a college graduate for a month, and I am only now coming down off of the events that come after such a life-changing accomplishment.

The thing about having a life-long dream no one tells you about is the feeling that comes after graduation. I’ve been a student with a dream of being a teacher for so long, I was not sure I knew how to be anything different. How do I go from a life-long learner, obsessed with school, to no-longer being behind a desk? How do I handle the identity crisis that comes along with achieving my dream and no longer being just the girl that has one?

It has taken me almost a month to adapt to this new part of me, if you will. It has felt, for almost 30 days, as if I was now suddenly someone else. It has taken me just as long to realize that I am not a different person. I am simply now able to be the person that has always had to wait.

No longer does that Mollie have to wait. We have done all of the work. We have successfully completed the steps. We have learned, we have been hurt, we have smiled, and we have grown.

It is time for that Mollie with her dream, to pick up her teaching notebook, walk into her own classroom, and put it into action while those that doubted her watch as she slowly makes a difference.

I used to think that everyone that stood in my way, laughed at me, or told me I couldn’t do it were trying to stop me from becoming someone else. They didn’t believe that I could be a teacher. They didn’t believe I had what it took. They thought I couldn’t make it.

The thing is…my journey was not a matter of “making it,” because there was nothing to make. Not much in me is different. Everyone asks me, “what’s it like to finally have graduated?” I don’t feel very different than I always have.

I feel as though I’ve always been a teacher. In my 3-year-old mind, standing in a makeshift classroom of stuffed animals and the babysitter I forced into a desk in my own living room, I was a teacher. I never became a not-teacher, the same way one does not become a not-person.

After nearly a month of identity confusion, I can honestly say that I am not a different me, and everyone who thought there was a chance of difference, of change, or of a lack of passion or success was incorrect.

I could not, even if I tried, become a different Mollie than I am right now, because there is no new Mollie and no old.

I am the same me that I have always been.

I just have the degree and certification to prove it.

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