Today I fulfilled a job assignment that turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.
It was a curse in that it was a frustrating assignment in a high school English class.
It was a blessing in that I was forced to reflect on why that assignment irritated me so, face the memories that it brought up, resulting in a reinforced determination to meet my personal life goals.
Yes, all that arose from a simple day of working as a substitute teacher.
All day, the kids (really, they’re young immature people) tested my authority. It’s to be expected; the moment a high schooler sees an unfamiliar face with an unsteady grip on the attendance sheet standing at the front of the room with a thinly veiled, affected air of authority, their minds instantly shut down… the poor sap (in this case, me) doesn’t stand a chance. I could confiscate every electronic device, threaten this or that, spit fire, beat my chest all I want, and there will always be those students who shrug it off and spit rude attitude right back.
[In a way, I admire them; they’ve learned the skill of seeing through, and questioning, the bullshit of the established authority. Really, why SHOULDN’T they be allowed to check their text messages during class? I know plenty of “grown-ups” who sneak peeks at their phones during meetings, classes, and other “important” engagements. It’s a bit of a hypocritical rule, no?
As the day wore on, my patience wore thin and my mind grew heavier. I cared less and less about whether or not they did their work, and more about watching them and listening to their conversations. It made me feel alien, not unlike the feeling the 16-year-old Me felt in high school. Aside from a few notable exceptions, I felt totally disconnected from my peers. It felt like my priorities were different from many others around me, and I spent a lot of time in middle and high school feeling alienated. I felt suffocated by my schools, my hometown, my home state, and I just wanted to leave.
My method of escape, I decided, was to learn Japanese and travel abroad. So I kept quiet and bided my time until graduation, when I knew the real adventure would begin. And boy, did it.
And so now that I’ve spent a long time away, and I’ve become a decently-well-traveled young woman, it’s a trippy experience to return back to the high school setting in which remember feeling so uncomfortable. It almost feels like I’ve reverted and regressed back to a place I didn’t wish to visit again.
It brought back memories of my growing pains, and it felt as if I had traveled back in time, back into the head of a teenage Lari sitting in class opposite a clueless substitute teacher.
I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but to me, revisiting that physical place brings about a mental feeling of stagnation, and a lack of forward movement. My assignment today reminded me of what I left behind, and how much I wanted to run away.
Whether it’s right or wrong, I’m not sure; but I equate “away” with the “other,” the unknown, and to me, it all points forward.