It happened again.
Yesterday, I was told by an educator, that I must be an educator.
The first time it ever happened. I was sitting in my high school theatre teacher’s office, and he began a sentence,
“When you become a teacher someday – and Emily, you will be a teacher someday …”
Of course, the age-old condemnation flashed before my eyes:
How is it possible?!?
It has happened once every semester of college, and six times a day at my summer theatre program.
Just before opening their mouth, each trusted professor/educator looks at me with the same guilty glint in their eyes – a look they each must have received in their youth.
They say something along the lines of, “You know … I’ve really noticed your feedback to peers in class…”
Before they have finished, I am nodding.
I know. I know. I KNOW!
Like, of course I talk like this. My mother is the best educator I have ever met.
When this happens, I often find myself metaphorically horizontal, metaphorically clutching desperately onto a metaphorical fencepost, metaphorical victim to the winds in the proverbial storm of fate.
When I was younger and dreaming of my Big Acting Career, I definitely didn’t ask for this.
But I will tell you a secret.
(I know rudimentary html, so if you’re reading this on a computer we can whisper:)
I am, undeniably, destined to teach.
…… But doesn’t that mean I can’t do?
That I’ll never really *make it*?
That I don’t have what it takes?!
That, because of my weird knack for articulate peer feedback, I am ball-and-chain damned to spend the rest of my life in artistic squalor, vicariously living through the budding artists of tomorrow???
I hit the eye of the storm this summer.
After years of inner turmoil, I finally understood that I have to do this.
So I really began to listen.
Here’s what I got.
- Brilliant as he is, one should proooobably not live life with George Bernard Shaw at the helm of one’s absolute truth.
- If I wanna do and teach, there’s nothing stopping me. I do not have to look any further than the faculty at my own school.
One of whom inspired me just this week, more than he even knows, as he mused aloud for a few minutes about the beauty of teaching.
(certainly not a direct quote… but you’ll get the idea)
“When I started teaching here I was … reluctant to the whole thing! Now, after a few years, I’ve realized. The beauty of this job. My passion for theatre has not gone anywhere, after all these years. But here, I can think whatever I want to about theatre. I am not at the mercy of anyone else, or spending my time waiting to be chosen.
Here, I am free.”
I was almost moved to tears. But I was TAing a freshman class and I have a Haughty and Unforgiving Upperclassman Veneer to uphold. They smell weakness.
Anyway, it got me thinking about Shaw again.
More positively this time.
For the lot of us who have pursued theatre, it is paired with the explanation that, we simply could not bring ourselves to do anything but.
I think the same might be true for teaching.
That’s where Shaw’s “can’t do” comes in.
In my artistic life, I will surely spend plenty of time doing.
But there will come a point when I can’t do anymore.
NOT because I will suddenly lack ability.
NOT because I will suddenly lack passion.
But because I will no longer be able to resist teaching.
Of COURSE I can’t do. I don’t have time! I must teach!
It is not a second choice, or a back-up. It feels as inevitable and beautiful for me as theatre always has.
So, I won’t rush into grad school. I’ll make some mistakes and be a human and learn more about myself as an artist outside of an education system.
Then, I’ll be back. To do that other thing I’m born to do.
Basically, teaching isn’t my plan B.
It’s Plan A+.