(I actually wish this face could be turned into an emoji because I fee like it encapsulates my inner voice much more than a kitten with heart eyes ever could.)
THIS is the face I make (internally, of course) every time someone tells me I look so young.
I am sorry that I am a fetus. There’s not much I can do about it.
I’ve actually just kind of started busting my ID out everywhere I go. Not just when I’m buying Two-Buck Chuck (which is like THREE bucks now, by the way), but really for any occasion…that way the Trader Joe’s employee knows that YES, I have been DRIVING myself to buy tomato basil humus for quite a while now. Thank you very much.
(And YES, I’ve been seeing Rated-R movies for almost ten years now. And maybe even longer because I was a real worldly child. And NO, I don’t want a coloring page for a menu…but yeah, maybe leave the crayons.)
It gets a little more difficult teaching at a high school. Instead of asking me about my philosophy of education (or whatever), people usually ask me what I’m gonna “do about my face.” (Like there’s some magic serum out there that will give me age & wisdom as opposed to just acne & dry skin.)
But then I thought about it.
And yes, when you think of a teacher…you don’t usually think of someone who looks like they popped right out of the Disney Channel (which, incidentally, is kind of my dream).
You think of an old man with elbow patches, reading Tolstoy and smoking a pipe made of…mahogany…or whatever they make pipes out of.
When you think of a “teacher” you think Gandalf.
Not Hannah Montana.
So I’ve been racking my brain this summer…thinking about how I can make myself like that. How can I become a sage wizard and not a teeny-bopper look-a-like?
And then I realized…that’s the exact opposite of what I want my students to learn.
I don’t want them to think that respect is only for people that look old and worthy of respect.
And I get that it’s this innate, biological thing to “look up to our elders” or whatever. But I think there’s something to be said for listening and respecting people…despite what our perceptions tell us.
I don’t need to be old (or look old) to be a teacher.
I need to be educated and inspired.
I need to be a good listener as much as I need to be a good “explainer.”
I need to be thoughtful and curious.
I need to be respectful just as much as I need to be respectable.
(I mean, that’s why I was hired, after all! I am smart and I’m good at what I do.)
So yes, come August, I’m still going to have my fetus face (ew, that sounds gross).
And I’m going to embrace that just as much as I’m going to embrace the quirks that come with my personality…because that’s who I am and it’s how I teach (it’s kind of my niche).
They tell you as a teacher that you shouldn’t smile until Christmas – that way you can establish dominance and fear in your classroom. (And we wonder what’s wrong with education?)
And while that might work for some people, it just sounds exhausting.
And it’s not me. (Mostly because I smile when I’m uncomfortable, therefore, I’m practically always smiling.)
So no, I’m not going to “do something” about my face.
I’m going to show up to work and do a good job.
And I’m going to teach my students that perception can be a farce.
Age, gender, your job, where you’re from…those don’t really mean anything. They are facts for your Facebook profile, but they are not the end all be all.
Respect is not something set aside for certain people. It’s not something you achieve like a driver’s license. (But yes, of course, there are ways to lose it…just like a driver’s license.)
It’s a right that we are all deserving of. (I know, I know. Don’t end your sentences in a preposition. Are we still teaching that crap?!)
So to all my forever-infants out there (I’m looking at you, Keanu!), I say, “March on! Stay young! Never surrender!”
You have the rest of your life to be old.