My entire life I have wanted to teach. I honestly can’t remember a time when that wasn’t on my goals list. I love children and always have, but even more important than my love for children was my determination to make a difference. Just think about it. As a parent you are the number 1 influence in your child’s life and you get to help mold that child into a good person, a positive person for society. You get to help establish a foundation in which they can grow, flourish, and live up to their potential. As a teacher you may not be the number 1 impact, but you definitely make a difference. You still help set the foundation. You still help a child grow, and you push that child to flourish and be the best person they can be. Except in this case you aren’t just doing it for a few children. You are doing it for an entire classroom of children every year. It’s one of the ultimate ways to make a difference. If you don’t like where the future of our country or our world is headed…. Teach a child. Those children are our future. Invest in them. Listen to them. Show them. Teach them. Watch them grow.
I was so devoted to this goal, and these thoughts that I overlooked all the other ways there are to make a difference. It isn’t only about children. You can live your life in a way that you are an example to everyone. You can listen to those around you. You can identify people’s needs, and you yourself can be the type of person that you would like to see become the norm as opposed to the exception. People never stop learning. In living a good and positive life you aren’t only being a good example for a child, but are in fact an example for everyone you come in contact with.
About a year and a half ago I left my teaching position at the elementary school. At the time I was completely heartbroken. It was something I had worked so hard for. I honestly felt I was making a difference in those children’s lives and they were making a difference in mine. I am not looking back on it with rose-colored glasses, as there were clearly things in the situation that I didn’t agree with, wasn’t comfortable with, but tried to overlook. It wasn’t the perfect situation or environment that I had always envisioned it would be. There was judgment. There was negativity, and in all honesty there were many people who were setting an example, but I can’t say that they were all good ones. In situations like that you start to take the weight of the world on your shoulders. You want to counteract the negativity. You want to make sure that there is at least some good even if it is surrounded by bad. That’s why I was so hurt by what happened. I believed I was doing the best thing. I had parents and children letting me know how big of a difference I was making in their lives. Some of these people still contact me today. Constantly reminding me that who I was in his or her lives was someone who mattered, someone who made a difference.
That’s why when everything happened I was crushed. I will not go into the entire situation, as it honestly doesn’t matter. What it boils down to is some people didn’t agree with some things in my life. Without knowing the situation, without ever really looking into it they judged me, and through this judgment it was determined that if I wasn’t the same as them I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t a good role model. I wasn’t a good representation of the faith. As someone who strives to always be a role model, and to do the right thing even is no one is watching, hearing something like this shook me to my core. I questioned myself. I looked at my life and wondered if I in fact was doing something wrong. If I wasn’t living my life in a way I should be proud of. I can honestly say in the months of reflection and the months of beating myself up trying to figure it out I finally came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I wasn’t doing something wrong I was doing something different, and if that is something you can’t accept then that’s a reflection on you, not a reflection on me. Although I was finally comfortable with this I will still saddened. I still felt I was losing my dream of making a difference. It was a rough time. It was something that was difficult for me to come to terms with, and something I couldn’t completely comprehend.
Looking back now I can honestly stay I made a difference then, and I am still making a difference in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I am still working with children, and although it is in a different setting these children still have the same needs and still need someone that lives the type of life they can hope to have. Setting that aside though there are so many other parts of my life now, and so many things I have done that have renewed my faith that I can make a difference in this world. I still have my podcast (although it’s taken a short break while I dealt with some of life’s more pressing issues.) Through the show I have made amazing contacts. I have been involved with organizations that I am so proud to be associated with. I have done shows bringing to light some health issues that are often left in the shadows. I have done shows in support of Bands 4 Arms, The Boot Campaign, and Wounded Warriors. We have done shows on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries. On a lighter note there have been shows to draw attention to up and coming artists. We have gotten the word out about new CDs, new sitcoms, new blogs, and many other adventures people have embarked on. I have been involved in a couple different new podcasts starting up. I have given a voice to people that previously didn’t have one, and in each and every one of those things we’ve made a difference. I have received e-mails from listeners, who I now consider dear friends, telling me that they got through their treatment that day because they were listening to the show. I have spoken with people who have lived a life scarred by abuse, and they have thanked me for getting the word out. I have received messages simply saying, “What you do is important!” and each and every time I realize that “it makes a difference.” It might be in an entirely different way than I imagined throughout my life, but it is still fulfilling the goals I set for myself.
Through those situations and experiences I have opened the door for many other opportunities. I have started writing articles about things I enjoy and things and people I believe in. I have gotten to interview people who I look up to, and I have had the opportunity to meet people that I admire, as well as artists I am a huge fan of. Without going through everything I went through as I left the classroom none of this would have been possible. I wouldn’t have found myself in the situation I am in. I wouldn’t be writing for multiple online magazines. I wouldn’t be hosting my show. I wouldn’t be helping do PR and social media communications for companies and organizations I truly believe in. I wouldn’t be able to have a phone interview with BJ Thomas and share with him that his concert was the first one I ever went to, and years later it was the first one I took my daughter to. I wouldn’t get emails from musicians on reality shows sharing with me that previous contestants have shared so many positive things about working with me that they now want to know if they can have hat same opportunity. I have received e-mails from PR Reps letting me know that their clients shared that I was a breath of fresh air in the industry. I was a good person and was doing things for the right reasons, and because of that they want to work with me again in the future. All of those things mean so much to me, and I don’t take a single one for granted. They help me know I am doing the right thing, and at the end of the day I can look back and honestly say… “Yes I did the right thing. Yes I have and can continue to make a difference, and possibly most importantly of all I can now say with full confidence “Yes it mattered!”
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