Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Job Identity

I have been struggling recently with the concept of titles defining who I am. For example, am I a teacher, or do I just happen to be teaching at this point in my life. I think it is very much the latter option. Although I have the correct skill set to accomplish the tasks set forth in educating a group of students and I am gaining experience, I still do not view myself as a teacher. James said it best this morning when he reminded me of a scene from Stardust. (which by the way is a fantastic movie that you should watch) In the movie there is a boy who is looking for so much in life, for love, for passion, for success. He works as a shop boy taking orders and money from customers day in and day out. At one point in the movie he says that he is not a shop boy, he just happens to be working in a shop for the time being. I love the potential behind that statement. He is not bound by the title of "shop boy" even though that is how he is making a living. Instead he has the freedom to be a shop boy for the moment and something else maybe tomorrow or maybe next week.

There are so many things I want to do, so many things I feel called to do in life that it is unfair to limit my potential by saying "I'm a teacher". My struggle has been fueled by many sources the past few weeks and it has caused me to think about my profession, identity and future.

As I teach every day I realize more and more that although I touch my students lives and am an example for them, my influence can only reach through the hours we spend together. They will remember me, at least some of them, but there is so much that I want to fix, so much they need from me and I feel so helpless that I can't give that to them. It is humbling to try to impart knowledge to someone that has less clothing, less food, and experiences less love than you. I feel a conflict when I am asked to teach my students knowledge yet they are holding their stomachs in hunger because their family did not have enough money for food that month. My goal as a teacher according to the state and district is to teach students to perform on assessments and remember lots of information that should be beneficial in their lives, at least it was determined to be beneficial for them by some outside source. If that is who I am supposed to be as a "teacher" then the dissonance between my profession and identity is monumental.

I continue to struggle as a teacher because I feel limited in the potential I have to make a difference. I see opportunities in two other areas of my life to use my passion, creativity and motivation for the benefit of others that have so much more potential for change than teaching does that it is hard for me to continue to go to my classroom each day and fight the ongoing battle that will not be won after one year.

I recently achieved a rank of success as an independent associate for a natural supplements company, called Univera Lifesciences, that I am involved with. The mission of the company is to bring the best of nature to mankind and to not only improve health but to also improve quality of life through their products and programs. One of my favorite aspects of the company is our Serve First Foundation. This foundation provides food, homes and support for communities in the United States. I see the potential to make huge change and improvement for those around me in a company that can improve life, how we experience it and how we live it. My success is sweet and welcomed, but it also motivates me to continue growing my business in order that I might someday affect the lives of my students with change that is permanent and meets the needs that they have on a deeper basis than just treating the symptoms of their poverty.

I also have a passion for creativity and art and hope that this desire can be woven into the other things I pursue. My goal is to open my own ceramics studio and gallery. I have not worked out any details, right now it is just dreams. But I think I would like to include some form of teaching ceramics classes, or having family creativity nights. I am not sure how profits from the company will work, but I would at least like a portion to be used to create renewable income for someone who needs it, be it a family, an individual, a church, who knows.

After all of that I realize, as I have many times before, that I really only have one identity. I am a daughter of the risen king. My purpose is to be aligned with Christ's purpose and plan. Without his plan mine means nothing. I am relieved that my identity is not based on my imperfect titles of "teacher", "independent associate" or "artist". My purpose is to love, to be an example and in this moment I can fulfill that purpose through teaching. I am not a teacher, I just happen to be teaching. Who knows what tomorrow has in store.

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