I was in our school's office this afternoon walking back to check my mailbox before I left for the day. As I am walking past the principal office, I glance in and notice that our superintendent is sitting in there with the principal and another newly hired employee who will be working with the teachers in our school.
As I pass by and realize who is there I backtrack to poke my head in to say "hi". Immediately I am invited in to chat and our superintendent -Pam Moran- introduces me to Isabelle McLean our new instructional coach who is assigned to work with us at our school for this year. As we were exchanging pleasantries, Pam began to tell Isabelle about some of my minor achievements over the past year year in the classroom and elsewhere in the school system. I was very impressed that our superintendent knew so much about me. But as I left the "party in the principal's office" I felt as successful as I had ever felt and it had nothing to do with my job. The reason: it proved to me that I have successfully reinvented myself.
As a kid I was “a golfer” That’s all everyone knew about me. I had success as a teen on the golf course and so that’s who I unwillingly became. I wasn’t Andrew, a kid who plays golf, I was a golfer named Andrew! (what gets lost amongst family and old friends is the fact I had a 33-5 career high school tennis singles record and played for the 1998 state championship)
College comes and goes and since I’m not going pro as a golfer the question is “now what?" How am I supposed to know what to do after parents and relatives have benignly pigeonholed me into this identity?
Fast forward to today and Pam is complimenting me on my acquired skills of teaching Physical Education, teaching dance, photography, and coaching tennis. Not a single mention of golf. Proof positive of a complete reinvention. Why so happy? I have successfully carved out a different path that I never saw for myself. Rather than continue down a paved, unfulfilling road, I took a risk on a career choice that for me had no trail blazed yet.
I came upon the commencement speech for the Dartmouth class of 2011. The speaker for the occasion was Conan O’Brien. While his speech was very humorous, he spoke about how many of us as kids know exactly what we want to do with our lives. How we have our life scripted out and we just need to get on with it. But dreams and identities change over time and its OK. Our dreams at twenty-two will undoubtedly be different than at thirty-two or forty- two and quite possibly that change of career path might be the most rewarding thing we ever do.
In my opinion the satisfaction comes not from the success of change but knowing that change is a risk; especially when one is leaving something that most likely was their “dream from such a young age” How do you tell yourself that your dream was wrong for you? The courage to admit this and reinvent yourself is a tremendous feat.