Two things happened in the past two days that got me thinking. Yesterday I made an entry in my travel journal, which I always keep when I travel somewhere noticeable, and today I got a haircut. The two don’t sound like they have much in common, so let me explain.
Haircuts have always been a bit of a gray area for me. I’ve never gotten exactly what I want, plus I hate going through the hassle (ish) of arranging a haircut, fitting my schedule around it, and so on. But around a year ago I found a salon in Jackson that not only allows walk-ins, but also does a pretty good job with the haircut. So instead of making a big to-do about it, I just started stopping by this salon whenever I needed a cut.
To add to that, I’m putting a LOT of trust in someone when I sit down in their chair for a haircut. It’s not like someone who paints nails or does makeup. Hair is one of the first things we notice on people, and a haircut is pretty permanent, unless someone is willing to purchase a wig. I’m trusting the hair stylist that he or she will provide me with the haircut I desire and not mess up in the process. And for me, that’s a big trust to give.
So as I was thinking about this today while she was layering my hair, the journal entry I read yesterday came to mind. It was strange to read the entry, as it was written in a time before I had moved to Cape G, started school and teaching, and had come to love the city as my home. In it, I wrote about how nervous I was about teaching my very own class and how nerve-wracking it was to realize that students’ understanding of English composition could very well depend on the lessons they learned in my class.
And that’s when I realized something. We are constantly putting our faith/trust in others, whether it be in trusting a Doctor or trusting that a bus driver will deliver you from Point A to Point B. Countless parents put their trust in my sister daily as she works as a lifeguard at our neighborhood pool. Parents put their trust in me to educate their children as college freshman and lead them on their way as they figure out future career paths. In a world where contestants on The Bachelor spell out the reasons why they can’t trust in a relationship because reasons X and Y, we are still trusting others daily in tasks that are major or minor.
On my first day of teaching at SEMO, I remember thinking my stomach was going to fall out of my butt. I was incredibly nervous and felt like I had no idea what I was doing. In the hallway right before I entered my classroom, I passed a teacher I met the day before and gave him a “eeek” look. I distinctly remember the way he looked back—a very “you’re in this now, no backing down” look. That, plus a student on the first day who said “This is your classroom tell them to be quiet!” and gradually learning over the semester that not only was I qualified to do this job, I could and wanted to do this job. As the next three semesters progressed, this is a something I reminded myself continually, but also something of which I grew in confidence.
I thought about how nervous I had been on the first day of teaching while getting my hair cut today. She was new to the salon, and I knew she was probably nervous too. But as days of that nervousness pass, soon it transforms into confidence, and all the mistakes you tread through soon turn into lessons for the future.
The same student I mentioned above was only in my class for one day, as he clepped into the next class, but he still smiles and says hi every time he sees me. The last time he saw me, which happened to be at the gym, he said, “I didn’t know teachers worked out!” And that, in a strange way, affirmed that I was, in fact, a teacher, just as anyone can be affirmed in their current profession in a myriad of ways. And sometimes that’s all it takes.