As we make our way from one space to the next over the course of our lives, there are always a transition periods. During those moments of transition, all too often, there’s a great swirl of emotions that churn within us. And the way we navigate those emotions is critical to the outcomes those transitional moments bring.
The Challenge of Change
Change can be challenging. Learning new things presents new and unique opportunities. Getting to know the new faces takes a lot of energy and intentional focus. Transitioning from that which you were very familiar with to something new presents you with daily moments of learning, application, and reflection.
And these are all wonderful things! I firmly believe that it is in these moments throughout the course of our lives that we grow the most. Comfort and familiarity seems all well and good. But it is during these transitional periods that we really find out what we’re made of.
Roughly two years ago I began a transition that I never anticipated. In a matter of days, my entire life was flipped upside down. All of a sudden, I was thrust into the national spotlight answering calls from The New York Times, NBC, The Washington Post, and the likes.
In an instant, I went from someone who was very “don’t make the 6 o’clock news” to “let’s use the news to highlight what’s happening here and bring awareness” – something I was unfamiliar with and, if I’m honest, rather uncomfortable with. But, seeing as though I grew up in an environment where I was forced to fight through various things that came my way, I knew only one course of action…TO FIGHT.
As I transitioned to a new world of media engagements and advocacy I felt discombobulated. This space looked and felt quite different than showing up at school each day surrounded by the staff and students I adored. I felt empty and alone. I felt disconnected and depressed. This transition was not something I’d planned for, nor desired, yet here I was.
Embrace the Unknown
Over time I would find my footing. What helped the most was looking into the eyes of the people who love me most, my family. Over time I would come to reframe the situation. This transition would not be something happening to me. Rather, I would turn this on its head and take what was meant for my detriment into something positive for my family and the greater global community.
I put my head down and started on projects I’d once considered, but never did. One of those projects was writing a book and, boy, do I have a doozy in the works to shine a light on what so many educators across the country are facing. I won’t share too much now but I can’t wait until it’s time to send that out into the world.
Most importantly, though, I looked at this as an opportunity to be there for my family in a way that I’d never been able to over the course of my career. Those who know me, know – I only know one way to be a teacher/coach/administer – and that’s FULL FORCE! I give my all to every school I’ve had the pleasure of serving. And, while I have the most amazing and understanding family support system, I know that, oftentimes, they took what was left of me after many of those long, challenging days serving in public schools.
Slowly, I got out of bed a bit quicker, I calmed my bitterness and frustration, and I leaned into being ON for my family. That’s not to say that disappointment, frustration, bitterness, and anger did not rear their ugly heads over time. They did. If I told you the amount of times I heard people say I’d never work in public education in the metroplex again. If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times. And I’m talking from folks in pretty high-up places in various districts across the DFW. And every time it had nothing to do with who I was. No, that was intact, well known, and even desired by many of these people. Yet the lack of intestinal fortitude kept many from taking a leap of faith for fear of a small group of hateful, bigoted, intolerant people. It’s been both an eye-opening and disappointing realization that some who claim to be in this work for kids and educators are really more interested in political positioning and harmful games.
But I would not let this consume me. In reality, I dodged a bullet with those who were afraid of the “bogeyman backlash”, as I sure did not want to end up in a situation where I was serving for a leader who lacked courage, integrity, and conviction. So I embraced the transition and chose to make the most of the challenges presented to me. I poured into my family, advocacy work that took me to the halls of Congress, and partnering with educators, higher education institutions and other organizations across the country. When you’re from where I’m from you’ve learned to make magic out of mess.
A few weeks ago, I turned the page on that chapter of life – a chapter that has been more like an entire crazy book. And now I’ve transitioned to a new, beautiful chapter… back in a beautiful school, doing what I love. This transition comes with a new role, a role that entails leading a small, but mighty, district made up of roughly 400 students K-12. It’s such a special place – the acres of tall, big trees, the winding creek, and, most importantly, THE PEOPLE. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming. They’ve made this transition smoother than I ever could’ve imagined. I’m forever grateful that God made this possible. What some meant for harm, He turned to good.
So as you make the twists and turns of the various transition points in life, give yourself the grace to feel, learn, and grow. As tough as the terrain may be at the moment, always know that you don’t have to walk that rocky road alone. Be still and reflect on ways to reframe and reload to propel yourself forward towards brighter days. I’m rooting for you in all your days ahead.