Graduating

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It’s a strange time of year for me…

I’ve been working in education for 7 years now… Those of us that do this kind of work operate on a different calendar than everybody else- my “New Year” is in mid-August, and my end of year is, well…. Now.

There’s the exhaustion of having worked hard for 10 months, and the insanity of the end of the year- concerts, masses, performances, graduation events, meetings, auditions, contract signings, and yes, already planning for the next year… The pace of the end of the year is NOT for the faint of heart! There’s the anticipation of the summer break and the relaxing of the schedule…. And there’s the part of me that actually misses the schedule after a week or two off… It’s a time of mixed emotions, to say the least!

For me, this years’ end is particularly special… It marks the end of (almost) 4 years at the boys’ school I work at… That first group of “4 year-ers” I have are always special… When I go back in the fall, for the first time since I’ve taught there, some familiar faces will be gone. I stand in proud amazement of the growth I’ve seen in 4 years, of what they’ve learned and accomplished musically, and of the great young men they are becoming. I almost got a little sappy when posing for a picture with my seniors at the end of their concert tonight… it happened with the girls last Thursday, too. 🙂  I am anxious and excited to see what their futures bring and what adventures they tackle next. …And I’m a little sad. Some of them I’ve known since they were 6 years old, growing up in my neighborhood and going to my family’s church. It’ll be weird not to see them daily.

But at the same time, there are reminders of all the amazing things coming their way. This past weekend, my first bunch of “babies” from the girls’ school (where I began teaching) graduated from COLLEGE! How insane is that?!?! It made me feel like I was one of those people who had been teaching for like 20 years… Just wild! (A friend was kind enough to remind me I’m not ‘that young’ anymore… LOL!) Again, my heart swelled with pride and admiration. Little girls that I taught  7-8 years ago are going to grad school, graduating with honors, starting careers, and doing things their 14-year old selves couldn’t have dreamed when I first met them…. And I’m lucky enough to still be in the loop.  …It’s a constant cycle… younger students are becoming older students, they will step up and become the leaders, and tomorrow, I will hear auditions, and new “babies” will come in…. Someone cue the Lion King soundtrack, because it’s the “circle of life”- high school style.

…And then there are all the kids from the years in-between my first year of teaching & now… As colleges have wrapped up classes over the last few weeks, there have been lots of visitors to classes and rehearsals, and lots of special audience members at concerts- It’s wonderful to see these familiar faces again; it’s wonderful that they WANT to come back, check in, and say hello; it’s incredible to see and hear about what they are doing and what they get excited about; and it’s also great to see my current kids look at them, imagining when THEY are that visitor a few years down the road.

My “almost graduates” are talking to me about the things that crack me up- like, “Next Wednesday I can call you ‘Tara’ instead of ‘Ms. Hinds’, right?” and while I have a tendency to roll my eyes as I nod in affirmation; I secretly know there are some people I still, at 29, take pause with before calling them by first name.

It’s a gift. …And I am lucky to be able to watch it all unfold.

Thus far this week, I have been reminded that “graduating” isn’t reserved exclusively for those folks completing high school or collegiate studies at this time of the year; it’s for all of us; all the time.

The word, “graduate” is based on the Latin, graduatus, with a root meaning of “step”. One of the less frequented definitions of “graduate” is “to pass by degrees; to change gradually”.

Tonight I completed a “mini-marathon” of musical performances- I concluded 5 performances in 5 days. It was intense. Overall, they all went really well. However, after performances there is always this part of me that wants to sit there and critique and pick at what could have been better, more perfect, and point out any and all flaws.

My colleague and I were starting to do that a little tonight as we walked back to our office, and we stopped each other…

“The parents loved it, the administrators were happy, the kids were proud and had a good time… People said it was one of the best in recent memory… Why are we picking at the flaws? If everyone else was happy with it, shouldn’t that be enough? Can’t we be happy, too?”

…And we decided to let it go.

AND I ACTUALLY DID let it go.

…And I felt good about being able to do that.

Driving home, it dawned on me that I hadn’t even listened to our performance CD or judge’s critique CD from State a few weeks ago… WEIRD! I generally have that puppy in the CD player before I’m done driving home. While not proud to admit it, I’ve often listened to it OVER and OVER and OVER again…. WAAYYY beyond the point of being “helpful” or “educational”. ….Maybe to the point of unhealthy… just maybe.

It’s not that I don’t care this year, or that I don’t think it offers valuable feedback; I do. VERY MUCH SO, in fact.

… It’s just that this year I have felt proud and accomplished and GOOD ENOUGH in simply having the knowledge and belief that my students, my colleague, and I DID OUR BEST, in that moment… and that IS enough. It’s insane to ask for or to look for anything beyond that. But accepting that reality is a new thing for me…

It’s a step; it’s personal growth and progress.

All of this really ties into a lot of the reading I’ve been doing about “perfectionism” and the other work done by author and researcher, Brene Brown. If you haven’t checked her out, I really encourage you to- I believe it’s stuff everyone could benefit from.

I donno about you, but her work challenges me, to say the very least.

While I certainly do not have my “diploma” in letting go of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations, I like to think I’ve had a “mini-graduation” in the past few weeks… I think I’ve taken a small step.

…and I’ve also made it to a small milestone… I’m more than 1/2way through my “12 Weeks of Quiet”… So thanks to all of you who have been so encouraging and supportive through this time, and to those of you who are kind enough to read my random thoughts here… It’s truly been amazing to get your feedback and encouragement! I need to “brave up” and make a doctor’s appointment to see how the healing is coming… and I’m a little nervous/ scared about that…. But I’m gonna tackle that in the next week, and you can bet it’ll get its own post!

In what ways are you graduating, or taking a step, in your own life?

Best,

T.

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2 responses »

  1. I hear ya, girl. I am wrapping up my first semester of being a Senior lecturer/ assistant professor. I printed out the final for my class and had a huge grin on my face! It is bittersweet. This class will always have a special place in my heart, they saw me through a major life change.
    Jill

  2. Oh, Tara! You are a very wise 29- year- old. I see my younger self in your writings…although I think you fit a lot more fun into your life than I did at 29. Lesson learned. ;-). Just wait until you teach those graduates’ CHILDREN!

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