The Difference Between Teachers and Puddles: A College Tutorial on My Future Career

Am I a puddle? Do I let people walk all over me? Sometimes I think it would be easier, being a puddle, being unimportant.

The truths of college: You'll spend hours upon hours studying while retaining absolutely nothing. Sleep is no longer a word in your vocabulary. Textbooks will set you back between two-hundred and eight-hundred dollars (if you're lucky). Dorm rooms are small, cramped, claustrophobia-inducing "living" spaces meant to keep the light of day out and all your frustration in. You will develop an unhealthy relationship with the local coffee shop. Ramen noodles are your one and only defense against weekend hunger cravings. There are not enough library hours in the world to keep you on task and sane at the same time. Your computer/laptop will crash at least once during the year (most likely just as you finish an important thirty-page paper that is due the next morning).

Yes, I speak from experience. I am an insomniac-on-command, caffeine-chugging, poor, starving college student with psychotic tendencies. I have fallen asleep in class and drooled on my notes. I have gone a weekend without eating anything. I have pulled 78-hour days. I have cried myself into exhaustion so many times I've lost count. College is not pretty. But I am still alive.

My chosen major is Secondary English Education. Many people ask me what in the hell I'm thinking, and I can only respond with: "I ask myself that same question every single day." I love to read. I love to write. I love grammar and editing and teaching people new things. Qualities of an English teacher? Sure! Qualities of a college student? Not quite...

If I could choose my life all over again, I'd find some rich guy, marry him, and move to Europe in the blink of an eye. I often imagine myself sitting on some terrace over-looking a busy city with a typewriter, a cup of white-mocha-french-vanilla coffee steaming on the table, blank pages on one side, pages filled with typed text on the other. And then reality comes crashing in like a bulldozer with a penchant for destroying happiness.

I'm twenty-one-years-old. I'm in my prime. My life is just beginning. So what am I doing here, sinking further and further away from what I originally loved about what I want to do? I want to be out and away, far, far, far from this place and its confinement.

I woke up the other day and realized that by becoming a teacher, I will forever be in school until the day I retire. Not that this bothers me. As long as I spend part of my school career on one end of the spectrum as a student and the other as a teacher. It creates perspective. I can look out at my students and say: "So this is what my teachers felt like." I think what bothers me is the other perspective. As a student, you worry about whether the teacher is going to be able to teach you anything. As a teacher, you worry about whether your students are going to be able to learn anything from you. It's all about style and gaining their interest and attention and getting the students involved.

My eighth-grade English teacher was good with things like that. He stretched our minds, stood us up and made us see, made us understand. He was fun and interesting, and he's the reason I wanted to become an English teacher in the first place, which is hilarious to me because he asked me once: "If there was one job in the world that you wouldn't want to do, what would it be?" And like a smart-ass, I said, "A teacher." But he laughed and shook his head, like he knew differently.

I still wake up and think to myself: "What have I gotten myself into?" There are times when I'm watching one of my professors go on and on, and they look excited, they look happy to teach, and I get this sinking feeling in my stomach. I start to doubt my ability as a future educator. I try to imagine myself in front of a classroom full of students, and all I can see is this trembling mass with barely enough brain cells to utter her name. In those moments, all I want to do is dissolve or melt into a puddle in my seat, because puddles don't have to teach. Puddles are puddles and have no responsibilities except to splash when someone steps on them.

Am I a puddle? Do I let people walk all over me? Sometimes I think it would be easier, being a puddle, being unimportant.

Teachers are important. They have to be. Teachers are the reason there are students, and, in turn, students are the reason there are other teachers. It's an endless cycle of students-taught-by-teachers becoming teachers-teaching-students. Puddles don't have endless cycles. Puddles don't even have thoughts.

So, am I a puddle? No. I think I'd rather be a teacher than a puddle.

College is what it is. It's unexpected and full of change. It's messy and often times frustrating beyond belief. It can break you down and lift you up at the same time. College is a challenge, but, then again, so is life.

Do I still have doubts about what I want to do with my life? Of course. Do I still want to do it? Knowing the difference between teachers and puddles: absolutely.


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