When I was a little girl, a basement space became my very own classroom. My parents crafted a makeshift school with a large chalkboard, colored chalk, two small desks and workbooks. I loved playing teacher, imagining a classroom filled with students, all ready to listen. From then on, I dreamed of becoming a real teacher someday.
Fast forward about 45 years to this past weekend, when my college roommates and I met up together. As we sat poring over photo albums for hours, reminiscing about old times, Barb, now a respected school principal, teased, "You won't believe the story I share with my teachers during workshops!"
I wondered what funny college time she could possibly be sharing about me.
"It's that unforgettable interview you had with Dorothy at the very end of senior year," Barb recalled.
I could feel the memories flooding back. Oh, yes, I remember it vividly. It was a second interview for a job in a dream school district, the place I longed to be. But when Dorothy, the interviewer, asked the crucial question of how to teach a kindergartener to read, all of a sudden I found myself flustered and overwhelmed. Words stumbled out of my mouth, and I could tell by Dorothy's expression that I hadn't given her the answer she had hoped for.
Leaving that interview room, my spirits crashed, and I felt dejected. All that hard work in college and dreams of becoming a teacher over the years, and there I was, feeling like I had failed miserably.
Doubts crept in. Was teaching really the right path for me? Did I even have the necessary skills?
Unfortunately, my suspicions of how the interview went were confirmed when the call for that position never came. The teaching job market was fiercely competitive at that time, and I began to wonder if my dream of becoming a teacher would ever come true.
However, just when I least expected it, life took a serendipitous turn. A college friend came through with a lead in a different district. Two months later, I found myself landing an incredible teaching position in a fantastic school. The first year had its challenges and often tested me. But it marked the beginning of a long, fulfilling career working with students.
After I married, had kids of my own and ventured beyond my own classroom, I began substitute teaching in various schools and even spent a few years in the world of online teaching, connecting with hundreds of students from different countries. I didn't mind settling into my online classroom before the sun rose because it brought me so much happiness to see them learn, laugh and grow.
Throughout my journey, I've had heartwarming experiences that proved I'm doing what truly matters to me - making a positive impact on others. For instance, while substituting in a nearby high school last year, students recognized me from their elementary days, and their smiles and memories made me so happy.
Just yesterday, I received a touching message from a student in China, expressing how much they missed me and our classes together. It's truly indescribable to know that I've touched lives even from thousands of miles away.
Now that I'm realizing another dream of being a spiritual practitioner for others, I see how my journey as a teacher has beautifully intertwined with my spiritual path. It's become clear that I should never let any one incident deter me from moving forward and continuing to help others on their life paths. I sometimes think what might have happened if I let that one unfortunate interview with Dorothy turn me away from pursuing my dream, and am so grateful that it didn't.
Sometimes the uncertainty and challenges along the way have been very hard. But I've realized it’s so important to trust every experience and remember that my puzzle piece may not fit in the spot I hope or expect it will, but someday it will end up in the right spot.
Staying true to ourselves and our aspirations can lead us to unexpected and beautiful places.
Because we'll all have a "Dorothy Interview" in our way sometime, but the important thing is not to let it stop us.
Reflecting on my path from a little girl playing teacher in the basement to a spiritual practitioner now, I can say the twists and turns were all worth it.
So, when you face your own "Dorothy Interview" moment, remember this: if you really want something, don't let one bad event or something someone says get in your way.
Trust the process, as hard as it might be, and just keep going.