Regression: A Look Into the Past
As my mother and I walk down the hallway of my elementary school towards my sixth grade classroom, my mind is racing with thoughts. My mother, who has always been my hero, walks with a sense of confidence that I try to imitate. I hold my head high, hoping she recognizes my maturity and grace. I consider how impressing my mother has always been a goal of mine, and that tonight would be no different. Having so much in common with her, I know at this young age of twelve that I want to follow in her footstep and become an elementary school teacher. Suddenly, my thoughts are interrupted as we stop outside the door of my classroom.
Tonight is the night of parent-teacher interviews, or what I like to think of as my opportunity to show my mother that I have what it takes to make her proud. The smell of coffee lingers in the air as we enter the classroom. I begin to feel a combination of nerves and excitement as I sink into my chair and my mother pulls up beside me. My portfolio, which is neatly decorated with my name in neon letters, is sitting on my desk. I begin to flip through the pages, being careful to ensure that my mother is following along closely. We spend a few minutes looking over my work while we wait for my teacher to come over and discuss my grades. The wait is agonizing. I can’t help but wonder what my teacher will say and I begin to consider the amount of pressure I am placing on my shoulders. In an attempt to distract myself from this feeling of self-doubt, I begin chatting with my classmates and snacking on stale cookies that the principal left out for everyone. However, these attempts are not successful, as the next few minutes feel like hours passing by.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, my teacher walks over and positions herself across from my mother. Her earrings jingle as she settles into her seat and her bright red lips stretch into a welcoming grin. The two chat while I sit patiently with my thoughts, waiting for the conversation to end so I can finally breath again. When my teacher says she has no complaints in regards to my behaviour and believes that I have been doing well in her class, a wave of relief washes over me. The first thought that rushes through my mind is in regards to how much my focus on academics has paid off and how I hope my mother recognizes this. My teacher concludes the interview by saying that she thinks that I have the potential to become a great teacher one day. I begin to blush, feeling both embarrassed and flattered. Before I can respond, my mother smiles and says that she knows for a fact I will be a great teacher. Her eyes wander over and meet mine, winking with approval as I sit rendered speechless.
The next thing I know, the two of us are heading towards the parking lot. As we walk in silence, it takes everything inside of me not to burst into song. I cannot put into words the amount of joy I am feeling in this very moment. A permanent smile has taken over my face and my entire body is consumed with a feeling of warmth. After turning the corner into an empty hallway, my mother glances over and smiles at me. She looks me in the eyes and with four simple words, “I’m proud of you”, I realize that she has always believed in me and my passion for education, and I start to think that maybe it’s time I believe in myself.
Progressive: A Look Into the Future
I glance out the window to see the sun peeking over the hill of the barren playground. The early morning frost is starting to melt, causing drips of water to flow down the widow. I twist the crank, opening it slightly and inviting a cool breeze to cascade into the classroom. A chill rushes down my spine as I grip my mug tightly with both hands. The smell of my coffee lingers in the air, pulling me in for another taste as I impatiently pace between the desks. My eyes dart from chair to chair as I adjust the rows, ensuring they are perfectly aligned. I glance up at the clock and follow the second hand as it slowly makes its way along. My heartbeat begins to mimic the ticking of the clock as the anticipation builds up within me. I try to relax but can’t seem to sit still.
My pacing is interrupted by the sound of laughter, which causes my body to jolt as I scurry back towards the window. I look out at the now busy playground, my eyes wandering from child to child. Again, my heart begins to beat at a rapid pace and my palms become sweaty. Laughter erupts for the second time, sending a feeling of warmth shooting throughout my body. I notice that an involuntary smile has taken over my face, stretching my cheeks further than they had ever stretched before. I feel like a child on Christmas morning, waiting to see which students will be mine.
The ringing of the school bell brings me back to reality. The moment I’ve been planning for and anticipating since I was a little girl has finally arrived. I race towards the door, pausing as I reach for the handle. Instantly I become very aware of my surroundings and begin to question every decision I have made. This sudden feeling of self-doubt is almost too much for me to handle. Should I have used a different font for their nametags? Is the novel I chose too difficult for the first day of classes? Will I be able to connect to the students in the same way their last teacher did? Am I really prepared for what I am about to experience? All these questions cause my heart rate to skyrocket once again. The voice in the back of my head is bursting with worrisome thoughts of incompetence and failure. I start to think about all my favourite elementary school teachers and feel as if I am not capable of living up the expectations I have created for myself. These thoughts lead to me to wonder as to how I am supposed to stand in front of these students with confidence when I can’t even feel my own legs beneath me.
Suddenly, my thoughts are interrupted as I hear the door handle click. The children flow into the classroom, erupting with chatter. My eyes dart around the room as I try to mask my nerves with a smile. I feel as if my heart is about to pop out of my chest right in front of the students. As they settle in their seats, I hesitantly make my way to the front of the classroom and grab a whiteboard marker. The marker feels heavy in my hands as I shakily manage to write “Miss Sauser” on the board. As I set the marker down, I slowly turn towards the class, fully prepared to be faced with questioning looks of disapproval and doubt.
To my surprise, the moment I glance over my shoulder, a sense of relief and comfort washes over me. The children stare at me with smiling faces and I automatically smile in return. I reach for my textbook and finger the pages, well aware that my every move is being watched and copied exactly. I am suddenly hit with the realization that I am no longer solely responsible for myself, but also for every child I am standing in front of. Shockingly, I do not feel overwhelmed by this realization. All of my previous nerves have somehow vanished. I am no longer consumed with doubt or feel the need to compare myself to my peers. For the first time in my life, I feel calm, confident and above all, I feel like I am doing what I was meant to do and that this is where I truly belong.
Analytical: Who Am I?
As I walk down the hallway of the university, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the overflowing trophy cabinet placed along the wall. I stop suddenly, entranced by what I see. This face, this body, this figure is one that I have seen so many times before, yet I have never bothered to ask myself “who am I”?
So, who am I? That is the million dollar question that I feel cannot be answered with a simple statement. Defining my identity in a short few words is something that seems impossible to me, yet at the same time I am struggling to come up with a place to start. I look back at my reflection and begin to examine what I see. Starting from the bottom and working my way up my body, I am tall, fair skinned and have an athletic figure that I prefer to cover in layers. Tiny freckles are sparsely scattered across my arms and a few appear upon my cheeks. I have long dark hair and deep brown eyes that change in color depending on the day. I’m about to continue when it occurs to me that I have been describing myself based on my exterior, as opposed to who I am on my much more complex interior. To describe who I really am, I must go deeper and explore places within myself that make me uncomfortable and scared, yet they are who I am and I refuse to be ashamed of who I am.
So again I ask myself, who am I? This time, I dig a little deeper to find the answer. The first things that I recognize are my flaws. The truth is, I am not the most easygoing person to be around. I suffer from social anxiety and newly developed depression. I am currently in the midst battling a monstrous eating disorder that calls itself anorexia. I let myself down more times than I can count and I constantly doubt every decision I make. I overreact to the smallest of incidents and often find myself unable to control my emotions. I am sometimes impulsive, judgemental and scared to approach new experiences. I do not handle stress well and change is something that frightens me to my very core. Although all these things I have mentioned are a part of who I am, they are only one half of my whole self.
While I have my flaws, which I fully accept, my identity is comprised of so much more than just my downfalls. First and foremost, I am a strong, independent woman who is currently working towards achieving a teaching degree. I have a passion for education and learning and feel that it is my purpose in this world to share my passion with a younger generation. I love children and working with them brings me more joy than I can put into words. I am the type of person who puts my whole self into everything I do and I never start a job without knowing with certainty that I will see it through. I am honest, kind, and unconditionally supportive. I love with my whole heart and always approach others with respect. I have many titles, including sister, daughter, student, and friend, all of which define who I am. Family is the most important thing in the world to me and I would do anything to protect the ones I love, even if it meant putting myself at a disadvantage. I love watching cheesy comedies and truly believe that laughter is the best medicine. While teaching is the number one passion in my life, baking comes in a close second and I cannot imagine life without it. I am extremely competitive and never back down from challenges or obstacles that stand in my way. Most importantly, I will describe myself as being compassionate and caring towards all.
Looking back at my reflection, I cannot believe all that I have just uncovered. Moments ago, I did not know where to begin with expressing who I am and now I sit here looking back at myself, wondering why I ever hesitated to answer this question in the first place. Now when asked who I am, I will say with confidence that I am Lauren Sauser. I am imperfect and flawed and often make mistakes. But regardless of it all, I am unapologetically me and wouldn’t change who I am for anyone.
Synthetic: All Of Myself
As this journey of self-exploration has come to an end, it is time for me to reflect back upon the writing I have done in order to fully understand who I am as a person. My past, present and future selves are all interconnected in ways that I had not realized before and directly impact who I am as a person.
As I look back at my regressive, I see an image of a scared, self-conscious young girl. This girl is unsure of the choices she makes, as well as what she is capable of. She measures her self-worth based upon recognition from others and is severely afraid of failing and disappointing those around her. She takes everything to heart and lacks a sense a carefree freedom that all children should possess. This is a girl who was forced to grow up too fast and missed her opportunity to be a kid. Although all of this is true, it would be inaccurate for me to say that this young girl is unhappy. The fact is that she is very happy and well loved. She is a kind, compassionate soul who always tries her best and never gives up, even when others wouldn’t blame her for doing so. She is organized, focused, and reliable, qualities often not found in a typical eleven-year-old girl. Above all, she has goals that she intends to achieve and recognizes that her passion for education is one that she will never lose.
Reflecting upon the image of my present self created through my analytical piece, I still see much of the same scared young girl as I did before. The girl being described is unsure of so many things and is always second-guessing the choices she makes. She still feels like her self worth is dependant upon what others think of her and her number one fear continues to be failure. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the girl being described in the present is any different than the one in the past, yet that could not be more wrong. Unlike her past self, this girl has been forced to overcome monstrous obstacles and keep moving. She has been dealt more bad hands than you could count, but she continues to never give up. She is more aware of the person she is and her experience has taught her to never say never. She is strong, smart and as independent as one could be. She is a fighter. But regardless of this all, deep down, she is still scared. She lives in a constant state of fear, yet this fear is different than the type of fear felt by her past self. She is no longer afraid of simply disappointing those around her, but also in disappointing herself. She is still unsure about many things in life, but the one thing she remains positive on is her future. Although many years have passed since she first sat down in her sixth grade classroom and declared she wanted to become a teacher, that statement is more true to her today than it ever was before.
Finally, I must look at the image of my future self that was formed through my progressive writing. Fast forwarding four years into the future, the woman being described has achieved her degree in education and is finally doing what she has wanted to be doing her entire life. This woman has made both my past and present self more proud than I can put into words. She is accomplished, hardworking, and driven. She has done things that my other selves never thought were possible. She finally is in control of her life and isn’t ashamed of who she is. Most importantly, this woman continues to be happy and live her life to the fullest. No longer does she look in the mirror and dislike what she sees. She looks her reflection in the eyes and smiles because she knows that she has worked harder than anyone else to get to where she is today and will never go back to being the insecure young girl that she was not too long ago. Although this sounds like a happy ending, which it is, life in not perfect for this woman. The truth is that this woman is terrified. She may be even more terrified than she was when she was eleven years old. The difference is that now she has hope. She has seen what she can overcome and knows that she is capable of achieving anything if she puts her mind to it. Even though part of that scared little girl still exists deep down inside of her, that voice of doubt is no longer a shout, but a whisper.
This road towards self-discovery has been one with many twists and turns. When I began writing about who I am as a person, I never thought that I would be able to see myself grow through the images I have created. Comparing these images, it would be impossible for me to ignore the countless ways in which I have changed. I have gone from being a scared young girl, to a confused teenager, and finally, a confident woman. I have realized that fear is inevitable in life and that we cannot avoid it. More importantly, I have learnt that it is not my fears that define me, but it is how I deal with them. I can say with all honestly that I am proud of my past, present and future selves and wouldn’t change a thing about any of them if given the opportunity. By reflecting back to where I began, understanding where I am today, and looking towards where I want to be in the future, I have come to recognize who I am as a person. Regardless of any obstacles I have yet to face, I know from this reflection that I can overcome anything that stands in my way if I continue to follow my heart and be true to who I am.