As I get older, I can look back over my life and notice the defining moments, those singular events that seemed random at the time but had huge impact on who and where I am today. A chance meeting with the man who would become my husband, the last minute invitation to a workshop that led to graduate school, taking that random general education course that ignited my passion for literature. What seemed insignificant at the time altered the course of my life.
From my present vantage point, I can also see other moments that, when they occurred, disappointed me, discouraged me, dashing my hopes and putting my life on hold. Or at least that's what I experienced then. I didn't get what I wanted, that promotion, relationship, or recognition I thought would complete me.
I've slowly come realize that missed opportunities are often than a path to something else more satisfying. Perspective shows me that I often don't know what's best for me.
Today's TeachThought blog challenge prompt asks me to consider that awareness: "Talk about an opportunity that I am grateful in hindsight for having passed me by." For me, that would be not getting hired as a counselor, a job I thought was for me when I took a graduate degree in counseling. I came close to getting hired (twice!), all the way to the final interview. But, twenty-five years later, I'm glad they turned me down. Had I been offered those jobs, I doubt I'd be here today, teaching English.
I am happy being a teacher. This past decade and half have been the most professionally satisfying years of my life. I don't regret the degree in counseling. The training and perspective I gained shaped how I view learning and teaching, how I conceptualize what change and growth means. The skills I bring from my internships and intermittent stints as a counselor make me a better teacher.
My personality isn't suited for the type of work I thought I wanted. I respect folks who have that skill set and the passion to counsel and advise students. I don't have the type of emotional stamina required of a good counselor. Nor do I possess the attention to detail necessary to help students chart academic plans. Keeping up with requirements, prerequisites, which courses transfer, changing admissions criteria and deadlines and the the like exhausts me. It's too much like figuring out Rubik's Cube, and my mind doesn't work that way.
Way back then when I didn't get the gigs I thought would give me joy, I felt devastated. But had I taken those jobs, my path toward teaching might have never happened.
Time didn't just heal my ego; time also gives me a broader view. Distance and reflection help me recognize I may not know what's in my best interest. That doesn't mean I don't keep aiming for what I believe is right. It does mean I don't have to force or control the outcome. I just gotta keep my head down and stay in the process.