Finding peace and pride in our past lives is terrifying. The idea that you can review the past objectively, without shame, is completely foreign to me.
In 5th grade, three boys in my class bullied me, called me homophobic slurs, and worst of all, imagined dirty, disgusting dares for me to complete during our bathroom breaks before returning to class. If I didn’t complete their dares in time, the boys would stand up from their desks and point and laugh at me as I returned from the bathroom. The teacher never stepped in, not even when my parents called the school about it.
This wasn’t the first, nor the last time I was bullied in school. But it comes to mind because, like most victims of bullying, a part of me has always blamed my own dweebishness for the treatment I received. I resented those boys, but never stood up for myself. I had braces, a lisp, an awkward gait, and regularly brought my nerdy interests to school during show and tell. I remember expressing total enthusiasm for my new Gamecube the day after Christmas break, and I remember feeling embarrassed when others didn’t take the activity as seriously as I did. In short, my peers encouraged a sort of cooled resentment towards sincerity. Sincere emotions, whether passion for a gaming system or sadness after school, were signs of a weak spirit. I didn’t get the hint until it was too late, until after my reputation had already settled in the school community.
One of the reasons it can be difficult to be prideful in the past is because history tends to repeat itself, allowing past failures to reconstitute into new forms that make you question whether you’ve really changed much at all since 5th grade. Even though you know you have.
Peace and pride come from accepting failure and absolving our past selves of guilt, from seeing through the facade of total free will and manifest destiny over our lives that justifies our victimhood. Nothing in this world is completely under our control. There is a nice calm from throwing your hands up in the air and admitting defeat in that pursuit.
When I realize that I was an ineffective and incomplete teacher, I find peace and pride in my decision to leave teaching. My decision to leave, on its own, is evidence of the fact. The world was corrected in some small way when I made that choice.