I’ve been struggling lately.
For about a year, I’ve felt a little confused, a little stagnant, and a little lost. I’m a goal-oriented person, and having achieved a few over the last year, I didn’t have a new one in mind. It was frightening.
I’d been sitting in that place with no direction for awhile. I’ve been feeling the itch to continue growing, to do more. The problem is, I have no idea what that more is. And even more, I have no idea how to do it.
Leaning on people, especially those who inspire me, mentor me, and challenge me, was where I started. I asked a lot of questions, I put myself out there, and I tried to get involved with new projects. Some of which were unlike anything I’d ever done before. I honestly said yes to as many opportunities as I could, which was a great way to begin figuring out what I was interested in and what I wasn’t.
In the past two months, I’ve achieved incredible clarity. And it was all because of two situations in particular. One where I was surrounded by my people and one where I wasn’t.
One of these scenarios was NCTE. Being in that environment was like being filled with electricity. Everywhere I went, I was having meaningful conversations that pushed my thinking. I was studying with masters of their craft, and often, with those who had written the work we were studying. I was surrounded by my literacy folk. Having fun, learning, and taking in the wonder that is the annual convention. I’d never felt such a sense of belonging among professionals. I should have known going in, given how I’d come upon the opportunity to go, but I didn’t. And I was floored. That was step one.
Just recently, I attended another conference for educational leaders and administrators. It was on par with NCTE nationally, and I had high expectations for my learning and growth. While the information and learning was there, the collaboration was different. I still had conversations with people who challenged my thinking. I still engaged in study. But it was an entirely separate experience. One that made me realize how much I belong with literacy folks. One that made me see, with clarity, where exactly I wanted my future to go.
I now have some direction and some idea of who I want to be, but more importantly, those I want to surround me. I still have a lot of soul searching to do, I still want to do more. But now I know the area I want to be in and who I want that work to be with.
And that clarity feels good.