Today was my last day at school, and I found myself giving a lot of kids the same talk- the talk about how part of life is moving on even if you’re not ready, and that it’s hard but that just means it was something worthwhile. I said those things and I believed them, but that knowledge didn’t make the goodbyes any easier. I don’t think I will ever forget hugging each kid up until their last moments heading out the door, watching it shut, and then instantly breaking down. Those moments in life are powerful and they stick out to us because we want something to remember the experience by, but this experience was so much more than final notes and hugs and goodbyes. It was all of the little things that happened, each of which made me a slightly more changed person. Now, I’m reflecting on those little things. Here are a few:
- I started reading young adult novels like it was my job.
- I started to [attempt to] use phrases such as “on fleek” and “ball up.”
- I participated in kickball games, as part of the team, for the first time in my life.
- I learned how to fix a copier.
- I stopped caring what people thought of me when I was dancing.
- I started speaking my mind.
- I got really good at making up things to do on the fly.
- I mastered the “Miss Singerman Glare.”
- I came to really, really appreciate some good old markers.
- I got really quick at cleaning up a room full of trash.
- I forgot how to wear normal clothes.
- I taught kids about new cultures.
- I DJed a middle school dance.
- I found a deep and meaningful bond with sticky notes and their millions of uses.
- I learned how to let things- and people- go.
- I gave a lot of pep talks.
- I learned how to operate on a team.
- I began to appreciate even the tiniest of wins.
- I became unrealistically excited about charts and stickers.
- And, most importantly, I forged bonds with people whom I will never forget. I made a difference to them, and they made a difference to me, and just because it was officially over today doesn’t mean that I don’t get to keep the memories. And there is absolutely no disputing the fact that I am a better person because of them.
So now I rejoin the real world with new habits and skills and lessons learned. I may find that there’s no longer a need for some of them (RIP, my short-lived DJ career), but that makes them no less valuable. I am better now than I was before these 20 things happened to me, because each one challenged me and forced me to learn and to make the choice to make a change in myself.
A few months ago I wrote about the lessons I had learned since moving to Boston. They were all big life lessons, applicable to any situation. In contrast, these 20 things are not big or universal. They are tiny and personal, but somehow that makes them even more special. Nobody else knows what it was like, and so the only person who can appreciate them is me. They are all mine. And they have changed me, for good.