Everyday contains learning experiences–chances are I’ve most likely learned something this morning already; for instance, I should probably try to fully wake up before reaching for the sugar to put in my coffee because in all actuality it is really the salt. These experiences occur frequently–and typically everyone goes through learning experiences both big and small.
As I reflect back on my almost 24 years of life–I have had learning experiences both academically and personal that have lead me to where I am today. I define those learning experiences into 5 categories–preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, and college years. I can remember in every single one of those stages–defining learning moments, experiences, people, and activities that helped me get to this point in my life. Some of them were tough–very tough, and others were extremely enjoyable; however, I wouldn’t take any of them back because they have simply made who I am.
Preschool. It’s that stage where a child looks cute, does funny things, and a lot of the time is outright frustrating. At this age–I developed my love for drawing and crafting. Though I was generally a very active kid that couldn’t sit still for more than 5 seconds–I, for some reason, could maintain the patience to sit and craft something for extended periods of time. I remember several of the teachers that I had in preschool were all extremely nice and caring–though I don’t remember any of their names. I don’t recall any terrifying or bad times in this stage of my life–however, I do remember my mother dressed me in lace dresses and leotards. I hated them. I knew they were itchy and I could not stand it. Still can’t do nylons or leotards to this day.
Elementary school had so many learning curves both good and bad that it is difficult to just pick one. Yet, I do recall a time that helped me learn how to deal with negative people and negative experiences. I believe I was in 3rd grade–I went to an extremely small school with maybe 25 students total. Most of the time at recess the boys would play some form of sport–basketball, football, etc. Growing up on a ranch and having the majority of the boys live just down the road from me–I felt more comfortable with them because they were basically like brothers. This resulted in one of my girl classmates constantly teasing me and harassing me for playing with the boys more than I did her. This lead me to the point where I didn’t even want to show up to school anymore, and where I resorted to basically isolating myself in the classroom as well as at recess. Eventually, this resulted in having a meeting with my parents, my teacher, and myself. I remember going to that meeting terrified–however, my teacher simply asked what was happening, how I felt, and why I felt the way I did. In the end I remember her specifically telling me, “We love you for who you are, no one can tell you who to play with, or how you should do things. You have to do what makes you happy.” I knew my parents had said it time and time again, but hearing it from my teacher made me realize that playing with the boys didn’t make me different–it simply meant they were who I wanted to associate with. In the end, I learned how to effectively ward off the negative comments that she would consistently dole out–and as we progressed through the rest of our elementary years we actually became quite close friends.
MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS
Middle school. It was the most awkward stage of my life thus far. I don’t think I would ever want to go back to middle school. I didn’t have a necessarily terrible time–but at the same time there was so many changing attitudes and personalities that it just made it downright uncomfortable. This was a time of big change for me–I had to switch from my small elementary school to now a school where there were 25 kids in my single grade. One defining moment that I remember from this stage was when a couple of the girls in my class were doing this extremely stupid dare that would supposedly make them “sisters.” It involved salt, ice, and an ankle bone. You mix the 3 and what you end up with is a nasty oozing wound. Sounds nice right? They had done it at a sleepover, and thought they were really cool–so of course I had said I would go home and do it and then all 3 of us could be sisters. Only I left the salt and ice on my skin for far too long resulting in a horrible wound that got infected and lasted for weeks. I still have the scar today. On top of that do you really think those two girls thought I was cool for doing it? Probably for a day–I wasn’t any better friends with them after the incident and on top of that I had an infected wound. I learned from that time period that I didn’t need to follow the crowd to be cool–I could be myself and do a lot less stupid things if I just stayed true to who I was.
HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
High school. Wow what a learning experience that was. Some of my greatest moments occurred through this time frame–also one of my greatest learning curves happened during my Junior year. It’s a story that sometimes I never know if I should or shouldn’t share going into the career that I am–however, it was also a learning experience that made me grow up by leaps an bounds. This was the year that I decided to test my boundaries with my parents, my teachers, and my coaches. I wanted to break the rules, not come home on time, and party and have a grand ole time with my friends. Over Christmas break I decided it would be a good idea to drive around, drink straight shots out of a crown bottle and then have my friends take me home. To no one’s surprise my parents had waited up for my highly intoxicated self to make it home. The consequences to follow the next morning were nothing as I had expected–they made me call my basketball coach and tell him what I had done–in which I was suspended from the team along with my best friend for 2 weeks. Basketball was my everything–so being suspended and letting my team down was one of the hardest things I had experienced. I lost my starting spot and a lot of respect from coaches, teammates, and parents. I learned that there is consequences for making poor decisions–and that in the process of building yourself back up, it’s twice as hard as the first time. It taught me that respect is not given–it’s earned, and that I needed to think twice before making choices for anything in life.
My college years have contained some of the greatest learning lessons thus far. From all aspects of life: relationships, jobs, career choices, finances, and life choices. I have had the opportunity to go to college not once but twice in the last 6 years since I graduated high school in 2010. My original plans to start a business venture after graduating college the first time didn’t go as planned, therefore, I decided to try my hand at substitute teaching, and I fell in love with teaching Elementary grade levels. Therefore, my journey to become a teacher started. I met some amazing people through the last 6 years, and wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, but the greatest lesson that I have learned is to follow your heart. Listening to it will usually bring you great happiness in various aspects of your life. Embrace it and run with it–this was the biggest thing I have learned.
As I go through the various stages of life I know that I have so much more to come–and I cannot wait to see what life brings me. These stages are only a portion as to what has happened and I know that I have so many more learning curves to encounter on this journey called life. I need to remember to be patient, control my stress, and no that everything happens in due time. Learn from my mistakes and use them to become a better me.