Time is a funny thing. Yesterday I substitute taught a 2nd grade class for the first time. The strangest part was that the classroom I subbed for was ay my same elementary school I went to, and even crazier was that it was for the same second grade teacher that I had some fifteen years ago, Mrs. Naves. While I stepped into her classroom I couldn’t help but feel a sense of splendid pride.
Second grade in Mrs. Naves room consisted of some very troublesome and unpleasant memories. It was here in this very classroom where the shell of quietness and timidness that was starting to recede,began to mold and smother me once again. It was during a time in my life where the couple of friends I had didn’t treat me like friends should treat each other. Come to think of it they were more like bullies and I was there bait. They needed someone to boss around, so I let them, as long as I had a friend or two. Life gets pretty lonely when you have no one to talk to, no one at recess to play with or no one to each lunch with all day, everyday. I was slowly starting to get to be more comfortable around my female peers, but my male peers were a whole different story. They intimidated me even more, I’m not sure why, but they just did. Maybe it was because they seemed more physically aggressive? Maybe I had a harder time reading them, then I did my girl classmates. I probably also found them intimidating. But whatever it was, remembering the timidness and anxiety I felt in 2nd grade all those years ago, made subbing yesterday even more rewarding.
Standing in front of that classroom yesterday, overlooking the boys and girls fidgeting in their seats (second graders have an impeccable amount of energy), I realized how far I’d come. I raised my voice when I needed to. I didn’t avoid either gender of students, there was no reason to. There was one point in the day, during language arts, where the class was dispersed throughout the room in little clusters, reading, writing and drawing. I was walking around to check in with all the groups, approaching them with no hesitation, no fear.
I mean I was nervous when the twenty 2nd graders came flooding in all at once. The swung their backpacks off their shoulders, asked with haste and a little bit of skepticism who this strange girl was, “When will Mrs. Naves be back?” Within the first five minutes someone had already had their feelings hurt “excuse me miss, but Sophie said I look constipated.” I don’t even think I knew what constipated meant at that age. Nevertheless, it was daunting to raise my quiet voice, step out front in the classroom and fight for their attention. But as the day went on my confidence grew, and I finished the day with great feelings of pride and relief for in the room where once I could barely whisper a word, I now experienced my emerging voice. I experienced my ability to appear confident even admit un-knowingness or doubts about whether I was ready to substitute a second grade classroom.
And for so much of this year I’ve been working hard at overcoming eating disorder fears, that it felt refreshing and empowering to take a stab at something that was unrelated to my eating disorder. I feel as if this means I’m further reclaiming my identity, exploring the world without ED. Being heard and being seen, and being okay with it. Yesterday was a special glimpse at how far I’ve come, and now where I have to go. I’ve to keep living out in the world, it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone.