I’m linking up with SheLoves Magazine for their monthly blogging fiesta. They’re talking about empowerment over there, so here’s a post about the most empowering, supportive, and encouraging person I know.
It had snowed (again) that morning, but I wasn’t going to complain. I had a flight back to the-land-of-no-snow in a few days and I wanted to soak in the crisp whiteness of it, the joy of wearing a hat and gloves. After nearly five months living in Mexico, I had spent the two weeks of Christmas break trying to rejuvenate my spirit with family time, lots of sleep, Dunkin Donuts, and Christmas movies. I wasn’t excited about the prospect of coming back, but I knew that this was where I had been called for this season and I was ready.
We had decided on a lunch date towards the end of my time in the States. I suggested a new taco place not too far away (because I clearly don’t already eat enough tacos) and we carefully drove to the not-so-shoveled parking lot. We commented on the ambiance of the place, on whether or not we thought it would survive long in that location, on plans for the rest of my time at home.
And then you asked me what my long term goals were. You asked if I thought I’d teach forever, or maybe go back to school, or when I thought I’d come back from Mexico and where I would go next. I told you some fuzzy dreams about a PhD in curriculum for English learners and about how much I loved teaching, how much I loved my students, but how I could see myself getting burnt out someday. And you smiled and told me I could do any of those things and that I would be great at them.
But… Rachel, what about writing? I love your blog. Do other people read your blog? Sometimes I share it with other people. I love to read what you write and, I don’t know, there are some people who make money doing that. Have you ever thought about writing for a living? I’m glad you love teaching and that’s what you do now, but maybe someday… I think other people could be really encouraged by your words, too.
I said something non-committal and afraid, like: “Yeah, maybe, I don’t think many people read what I write, I don’t know. And I don’t know how you make money at that, so… probably not. I’ll keep teaching.”
But if I were honest, this is what I would have said in that taco shop on that snowy day:
Do you know that when I decided to become an elementary education major instead of a math or a Spanish or a premed or prelaw major, I was so terrified to tell you and Mom that I called my brothers first and asked them how to break the news? I was so sure it would be such a disappointment to you, that you wouldn’t want to pay for college just for me to become a schoolteacher. I thought you would tell me I was too smart for that, that I was selling myself short, that I could do more.
I don’t even know if you remember when I called to tell you. I had already processed the paperwork for the change in major. I knew I wasn’t calling to ask permission, but just to let you know, and still I was so scared. Do you remember what you said when I told you about my education class and how much I loved it?
You said, “You’re sure that’s what you want to do? Then that’s great sweetie. I love you.“
You have always empowered me, as Thoreau would say, to go confidently in the direction of my dreams.
I would love to write someday. I don’t know how people make money at it, and legitimately very few people read my blog. But thank you thank you thank you for believing in what I have to say.
Thank you for saying that you will support me if I decide to follow the crazy dream of writing.
Thank you for saying that you will support me if I never do.
I love you.
I didn’t say any of those things, and we left the taco stand shortly thereafter so that I could work on packing and you could finish your workday. A few days later, when you dropped me off at the airport and gave me one last hug goodbye, I saw the tears in your eyes just as I felt them in my own. And so today, I want you to know:
No matter how far I travel, no matter how long before I come home, I am beyond blessed to have such an empowering, affirming, supportive father (and family), and I will never take that for granted. As hard as it is to leave the easiness and comfort of home, I know that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I have your support.
And that is what empowers me to take the next steps.