Individuality

Growing up; it’s an awkward time, a time of figuring everything out, and deciding how to act, dress, talk, what music to listen to and what meal you could eat everyday for the rest of your life. Growing up is full of paths, yes or no’s, and “wrong” decisions. Growing up, everybody tells you to be yourself. Forget the bullies, the kid who talks down to you doesn’t know what they’re talking about and the clique of girls at school don’t know how to have any fun anyway.

Be yourself.

We’re encouraged to create some being that hasn’t become anything yet. We are told to disregard judgment and stay true to ourselves no matter what because we are important. We are individuals who deserve the opportunity to grow into our own person. We’ve always been taught to acknowledge and respect individuality. I’ve always liked that.

Now, it’s something I struggle with. Not that I don’t accept others or that I don’t acknowledge and respect others for who they are, in actuality I love people for their differences. I fully embrace them. Uniqueness is key in my life. It’s just that now, I find myself going into a profession that deals with individuals in the most incredible way all while trying to fit into a norm. Special Education requires determination to adapt everything this child needs in order to make their life that much more worth living. I look at those students and see so many strengths, regardless of whether or not others agree.

I will always teach my students and colleagues to embrace their individuality. I hope to show them they are great with so many things and they may have some weird quirks, but everyone does and that is what’s so beautiful about the human race.

We are all different.

In so many ways, our lives fluctuate and fold in on themselves. Our personalities comes with experience (unless you are only on the “nature” part of that debate…). We are all living separate lives and we all appreciate differently.

I will always teach my students and colleagues to appreciate others.

I say this mostly with my future colleagues in mind. Throughout my experience working with a population of people who have special needs, I have found that overall, they are the most loving and accepting humans. They smile more often than not and are entertaining beyond belief. Yeah, they have their quirks and their behaviors and their self-stims but mostly, they love before they hate.

I wouldn’t call myself a professional, but that’s what I will soon be. I’ve been told to act professionally and I plan on trying my best but it’s hard for me when my “best-dressed” means something else. Cut-off pants and flannel shirts would be my ideal uniform, but I’ve realized that public schools seem to think differently, which is fine but I struggle when my individuality seems to be put on hold.

Tie your hair up.

Put on a nicer sweater.

Cover your tattoos.

Take those big earrings out.

Iron your pants.

Not that ironing my pants has anything to do with my individuality…it has most everything to do with my laziness and lack of iron…moving on.

All my life I’ve been told to be myself. And all my life I’ve been told I seem to have a pretty good idea of who I am. I would have to agree. I know who I am, what I like, what I choose to ignore, and where I want to go in the future. I know I love my dreaded hair, gauged ears, and casual style. I’m all about comfort and creativity. All this time I was being told to create my sense of self and now that I’ve finally found it I’m asked to modify it.

It’s a good thing I’m used to adaptations and modifications because I have enough sense to do as they say and appease the higher ups for now. I understand it’s all about the business, but when does the business of creating individuals turn into stifling individuality in order to form a cohesive group of teachers?

We are not all the same. Why do we teach but not display? We believe differently. We have different philosophies and I will welcome new ones while trying to improve used ones. That is my job as a special educator and I will always teach my students and colleagues to embrace the differences.

We were always told to be ourselves.

Now let us.

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