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A Hold on Hope, Part One

Since leaving my job, I wake up each morning and try to give myself a pep talk. I use the well-worn phrase, “Today’s another day.” I suppose the words are meant to remind me that I still have a life to live, and I shouldn’t get mired down in the present stresses. I cannot change the past, and if I continue to dwell on all of my worries, I will rob myself of a peaceful future.

Intellectually, I know all of this is true. And yet. My heart is aching. I find myself in a state of grief. This grief is not borne out of the loss of someone dear but something dear. I am mourning because I feel I will never teach again, at least not in the settings I’ve been to before. I am profoundly sad because I have lost the opportunity to do something I love: teaching. I thought that teaching would be one of the ways that I give back to the world; it would become a part of my legacy. But now that seems unlikely.

I am trying to separate the voices that do not help me from those who give me honest feedback, which is a challenging task. I am prone to self-deprecation and flogging myself for even the slightest misstep. It is difficult to balance being truthful about my shortcomings and telling myself I am a complete and utter loser. I’ve wasted years of my life berating and belittling myself, only to realize that it never made me a better person. It made me feel small and like a waste of space. If being mean to myself worked, I would be the best person on the planet.

So now I find myself ruminating on my grief at what I have lost and how I played a role in bringing it about. I am terrified that I am what some people have said I am, and I can’t see it; I won’t see it. I fear I am blind to the true nature of my intentions, and because of all the tragic events that have occurred, I am becoming bitter.

I don’t want to become bitter. 

I want to retain some of the wonder and innocence I once had before so many bad things happened. I want to remember that girl who loved to sing, read, and climb trees and whose imagination was boundless. She was the world through a particular lens, and that perspective contained hope. I need to hold on to hope; it has carried me through tough times like the one I’m in now. I think of a quote from Emily Dickinson. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—and sings the tunes without the words—and never stops at all.”

I need that hope now. I need it as much as the air I breathe. If I can hold on, I know hope will save me.

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