Becoming My Best Self
[Guest post by Catherine Hawkins. I just met Catherine, and I am already glad we met. After submitting her first piece, I read it and thought how much I still feel this way. Maybe you or I will never quite feel like a grown up, but that’s okay too. Enjoy her piece!]
When I was little, I pictured my future self as a fully functioning adult.
I thought there would be one defining moment when I would suddenly say, Yes, I have become a woman, and the road after that would be solid and straight–no more of this winding uncertainty that seemed to be the mark of growing up.
I sometimes call myself a “recent college graduate,” although that seems misleading now that it’s been almost two years.
I still wrestle with what it means to be a “grownup.”
Does it mean moving out of your parents’ house?
Having a full-time job with benefits?
Owning a car, being married, having babies, having a mortgage?
If those are the marks of adulthood, I am failing miserably.
In one of many conversations with my father about this nagging fear that I wasn’t “measuring up,” my father said:
“That’s the big secret, Catherine. No one feels like an adult.”
It was strange to hear him, the man who raised me, say that he still does not feel like a grownup. If this 6’2″, bearded, hard-working man doesn’t feel like an adult, there is no hope for this girl.
I have always been a passionate person, so I was shocked at the heaviness graduation presented.
I loved so many things, yet I felt paralyzed.
I couldn’t commit and I couldn’t decide, and all these dreams that had seemed so beautiful – so attainable –now seemed far from possible. I felt my passion seeping away, and the fear that I have always tried to suppress came roaring out of me, immobilizing me with its strength.
For a year, I juggled part-time jobs, searched the internet for The Perfect Job, and struggled to name the growing anxiety I felt. Trusting God is difficult, and it gets even harder when you can’t envision the next week, let alone the next year.
In late August, I was thrown into a job that I never dreamed I would have.
A friend from college recommended me to a Latin teaching job at a Christian school. I think my response was:
“Oh my gosh, are you serious?”
She was serious and I was intrigued, and I knew as soon as I walked in for the interview that this was where I was supposed to be.
Since then, I have been stretched and challenged, and every day I wake up and think:
“Wow, so I do it again? I go to the same place again? I teach Latin again?”
This will be a lifelong struggle, I think, becoming okay with repetition, with rhythms.
It seems God doesn’t wait for us to grow up. He pushes us along and says,
The other day, I watched the kids gather their backpacks and head for home.
The hall was full, the kids were happy, and I watched, smiling. One of my sixth grade girls saw me through the window. Her eyes lit up, and she waved excitedly.
“Hi, Miss Hawkins!” she said.
I waved back. And then I thought,
“Oh my gosh, I have become Miss Hawkins.”
I am becoming my best self.
I thought I would be so different by this point, that I would have everything figured out. I thought I would have settled down into a calmer, more thoughtful, more loving me.
It should be noted that the very same evening after I was joyously called “Miss Hawkins” and admired for my “pretty outfits,” I got in a fight with my sister over the silliest thing. My life is a constant foil of itself.
Becoming Miss Hawkins has taken less time than I thought.
At the same time, the result is very different, too. I am still, in a lot of ways, the same girl I was when I was seven, planning Laura Ingalls Wilder Club meetings, writing stories, and wishing someday to be a beautiful, smart, kind writer-woman who surrounds herself with lovely people and good books.
I have ninety-nine children who call me Miss Hawkins. Ninety-nine people who will always think of me as their Latin teacher, their Magistra, the one who sang all the time and laughed too much at Latin jokes.
I have officially become Miss Hawkins.
Catherine Hawkins is a lover of words, music, coffee, and sunlight. She recently found herself teaching Latin, and she hopes to keep doing so for a good long time. She writes about these and other things at http://catherineannehawkins.com.
[Picture: Danikapierce, Creative Commons]