Living a Life Outside the Box
Before I could plant my feet on the ground this morning, I turned to my wife and professed, "I want to pursue my dream." I went on to say that I was tired of just standing by her as she lives out her dream and helping her son find that thing he would dream about in years to come. I told her- not asked her- next year is my last year in the classroom. I plan to pursue my writing career. Though I wasn't sure how she would react; I was sure that, if she was unwilling to support me, I was willing to walk away.
You know the spill- get an education; get a safe job- teacher, nurse, secretary; marry; have a few children that you will be willing to give your last and who will, in response, take your last; and then sit back and wait on those children to start making children for you to practically raise and collect your social security check. Any attempt to break this trend, be original, dream bigger is seen as an attempt to discredit the life our parents had given us. Why would you want to move beyond the small town, or get a job that you enjoyed, or wait to have children? So subconsciously you take this all in until you become a manifestation of your parents' dreams and not your own. That is unless you have a gnawing feeling in your spirit that generally presents itself early in life but is pushed aside for 'safety'.
I was in middle school, looking for a way to express those foreign feelings about love, my mother, sex, sexuality when "Phenomenal Woman" came into my life. Shortly after that, I took pen to paper and sought to duplicate Angelou. When Mr. Johnson, my English teacher, handed me my first poetry book that was covered in Kente cloth I was determined to fill those pages. In high school, it wasn't until graduation night that I finally showcased my true writing skills. My graduation speech garnered me applause, standing ovations and the utterance from my father for the first time that he was proud of me. I knew then that my writing was able to move people.
After graduation, I struggled and failed at college and the military. Trying to find my way, I began to write, visit poetry sets and later even perform original works. I was high on literature and ready to give it my all. At twenty-one I was at a crossroads in my life, preparing to quit my job as a pharmacy technician, when a co-worker asked me what I planned to do. For the first time I said that I wanted to be a writer, and that co-worker laughed in my face. Heartbroken, I quit my job. Instead of pursuing my writing, I headed back to college for 'safety'.
Shortly after entering college, I quickly abandoned writing. I stopped going to poetry sets and shunned any notion of becoming a writer. After six years of working and going to school, I graduated.
I have been teaching now for four years and making excuses for my unhappiness. It's the students, or the administrators, or the town. In four years I have taught in four schools and found no greater joy. I am commended constantly for my performance and my students love me. Quite frankly, I love them. What I don't love is feeling confined, stifled, helpless, miserable.
Realizing that my existence is connected to my writing, I began this blog, It has given me a great outlet, and given me purpose, but the demands of a job in education have started to tear me away from this, that I love so much. Recently I posted a few poems on Facebook, and a publisher ran across my work. I agreed to publish one poetry book if he granted me one non-fiction book as well. He agreed, so I hit the pavement running until... my job made me begin a slow crawl.
No more! I am taking a stand. Here's what I know. No one can take my education from me; and, as long as there are children, there will always be a need for teachers. But this opportunity may never come again. Safety is 'square' and I am ready to begin living life outside this box.
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