It’s important to travel; it’s also important to come home. That was one of my mantras when I was starting off on my career change, leaving teaching for…at that point, something unknown.
Look, I’m an introverted nerd. I love people, I can be outgoing, but at heart I’m that kid who read in quiet corners, was on the science bowl team in high school, went off to an engineering school to major in math. I’m intensely grateful for the opportunity to have taught — to work with a wide variety of people from backgrounds very unlike my own. It was a tremendous learning curve, and I’m never happier than when I have one of those, but it was also way outside of my comfort zone. It was time to come home.
And now I have my brand-new tribe. People who get that I study dead languages for fun, and do crosswords, and have a cat. (Although I still have some work to do with y’all on the love-of-math front.) People who can match me nerd-for-nerd, and who like people, and it is simply astonishing how well I fit in, how much people have reached out to me, how much I belong.
I have spent this weekend being told I’m a winner, and a great writer, and a muse, and (just when I thought someone was going to back away slowly from the force of the nerd-dom!) the holder of a sexy brain. People have showered niceness and appreciation on me to a degree that verges on the absurd — I like myself and I believe in my talents, but I cannot possibly be the person they apparently think me to be. I am marinating, basking, in this glow of belonging and appreciation that has long since passed the point where I can grasp how to respond. Of course, gratitude, of course, I will find opportunities for involvement and service, but the precise lineaments of this thing are beyond me.
Justin, Tara, JP, Janie, Tiffany, Robin, Catherine, Michelle, Patrick, Bohyun, Buffy, Kate, Amanda, Meghan, Erin, Andy, two Andreas, Cindi Trainor, Peter Bromberg, Eric Hellman, Jason Griffey, Andrew Pace, the entirety of LITA — doubtless others I have left out; I truly have gone past my capacity to process all the information this weekend, and I apologize for the omission — your generosity, materially and spiritually, simply astounds me. I do not quite know who I am in this profession yet, not having a job title to hang on myself, not knowing what set of issues will come along with that and command my attention and passion and drive my direction, but thank you: I know I have come home.