write about a time when a dream went up in flames

by me

I have always been goal driven. Or rather, I had always been. When I was in high school Model United Nations, I knew I wanted a career in the UN. I would continue to study French, then in college study abroad in Paris, then graduate fluent and get a job in NYC at the UN building. Everything I did academically pointed in that direction. I even became president of MUN in college and went to the National MUN conference in NYC where I was on the Security Counsel. I was a the height of my academic career. I knew thousands of incoming freshmen because I was a counselor for orientation programs. I even knew the chancellor from participating in leadership conferences. I was close friends with many seniors. And I had a close knit group of friends (dare I say, a clique) that I did everything with outside of school.

Then came time to leave the country for Paris. I was distraught, I was a mess. I was about to fly to the opposite side of the world, alone.

To say the year was traumatic is an understatement. It was total culture shock. And even with 6 years of French classes behind me, I could barely communicate. But I worked very hard, and I began to find a rhythm there. Suddenly the year was over and it was time to return. Coming back home was even harder. That year had cracked the foundation of who I thought I was. I came back anonymous. The seniors had graduated. The freshmen forgot me. The chancellor changed. And I no longer fit in with my friends. I no longer fit my old role, and even if I had, that spot had been eliminated as the group dynamics shifted. I was lost. And I no longer wanted to work for the UN. I felt like I had wandered off my carefully tended path into the middle of a giant field of flowers surrounded by tall trees. Where was the path? I had no idea. I didn’t know in which direction to head, and so I was paralyzed, panicked and miserable.

As a result, when I graduated, I temped for a while before falling into an administrative role that paid well and was easy. And then I stayed in those kinds of jobs for 15 years, waiting for something, some kind of sign that would illuminate a new path.

Now that I look back, I see that I actually did receive that sign, 3 years after I graduated. I was moving from one administrative job to another, and my new boss (as awful as she was, micromanaging and manipulative) was the founding member of a synagogue. She saw the teacher in me, and brought in the educational director to meet me, who promptly offered me a job teaching Sunday school. Although I did not stay at that administrative job, I went on to teach Sunday school for 6 glorious years. My teaching only ended because I had my wedding to plan, then a child to have, then severe post partum depression. I didn’t go back to teaching. And I continued to look for a sign.

Well, the sign has just recently re-illuminated, pointing me again in the direction of teaching. And this time I will listen.