Last week, on the third anniversary of this blog, one of my students caught me after class. Her bloodshot eyes misted as she told me, in hesitant, broken segments, of a course load she could no longer juggle, of a part-time job that was dominating her time and a home life that was heavy and difficult. She told me of panic attacks that made her feel like she was dying, of medication that made her feel like a zombie. She cried, apologized, and cried some more.
I started to tell her she wasn’t alone, that I too had stood where she stood, but she cut me off with a gentle nod. “I know,” she replied. “I read your blog.”
I know. I read your blog.
I expected these words from the very beginning – from friends, family, colleagues, strangers, and yes, even students. I knew that publishing my insides meant inviting people to actually come look at them, but I’d be lying if I said her confession didn’t catch me a little off guard.
This wasn’t similes and Shakespeare, vocabulary and five-paragraph essays. This was life, and nowhere on my teaching license does it say I’m qualified to teach life. Yet there she was, convinced that a spilled soul and pancake smiley face were qualification enough.
A student read my blog and an amazing, scary thing happened. She walked into my classroom and showed me her truest self. She wasn’t cruel or exploitive. She wasn’t embarrassed or awkward. She was kind and honest and breathtakingly brave. She didn’t look at me and see weakness – she looked at me and saw herself.
My brokenness was her brokenness.
So students, if you’re reading, I want you to know that you’re welcome here, because if there’s one thing I hope to teach you it’s that all of us are human.
Turns out, we’re all qualified to teach life.