our own self denial

This past weekend I sat with friends at my favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Strong margaritas and chips and salsa that keep on coming, hell yes. The long absent Minnesota sun was beating down on my back while we all tossed our hair around and laughed as if we were in an old movie from the 60’s. We gabbed about guys, who is now married to who, recent awestruck-inducing finds from our Facebook news feed, and the like. Shortly thereafter we were greeted by old high school friends that were passing through Minneapolis for the weekend. After a few wobbly tables were pushed together we drank, ate and laughed as if we were just meandering down those high school halls, in those overly self-conscious bodies. When I think about those days it feels like another life … another me. But, for some reason being surrounded by those particular people, I was thrown back.

A couple of far too large margaritas later we were all back at my creaky apartment listening to old records and continuing our drinking bender. It’s funny because since being a college graduate and soon to be finishing my first year of teaching, I like to think of myself as being far wiser than I was in high school. Yet, when I was with those old friends from those days I was the same nervous, “self-doubty” girl I once was. I am proud of the person that I have grown to become and I don’t look illy back upon the person that I once was. That doesn’t mean I want to be her again, however.

I thanked the evening for its brevity. For, what does an overly nervous, over 21-year-old me do? Drink. I’m sure at the point in the evening that I began dancing around my living room was the moment that I started to make a fool of myself.

What I realize now, is that we cannot always escape the people that we were, not because of ourselves, but because of others. We carry on a certain persona with certain people, because we think that’s what they want, or they put a “spell” over us and make us do and say things that we think they want to hear, despite ourselves. Maybe that is why people flee when they want to reinvent themselves. It isn’t so much that a person cannot change on their own, but that the people around them hold them back.

It’s our human failing. Our inability to see things for ourselves while disregarding the sight of others.

We risk denying our true selves by appeasing those who deny us.

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their enviable innocence

As my students bound about my classroom with enviable pep in their step I am always overwrought with jealousy. They have only just begun. Their whole futures are ahead of them and their options are endless. Despite the fact that I am only 23 I feel as though some of my options and decisions have already passed. My college experience has since retired, my graduate schoolwork is already half-finished and I am well on my way to becoming established in the teaching community. While I still have some monumental decisions left to make, I look upon the freedom of youth with admiration.

These little humans are so resilient and sometimes ignorant to all of life’s cruelties. I just wish I could bottle up their childhood innocence and lock the lid forever. Each year I find myself becoming more cynical and more stubborn, more aloof. The world isn’t as safe as I once imagined it. I often wish I could see the world through their little eyes for just one day, to see again that there is beauty everywhere, and not just heartache.

One of my students passed away this year in a murder-suicide. She and her mother were taken. Her father took himself shortly thereafter. My students handled this horrifying truth with such grace and maturity, of which I am still dumbfounded by. They were able to bandage up their wounds far sooner than I was, and are able to talk about her with smiles and laughter.

As a teacher I am constantly amazed by their brilliance. But, this was the most remarkable of all. Life for them is not yet cruel. Even though they were exposed to the horrors of this world far too young they are still able to see only beauty. For that, I am grateful.