So I’ve been trying to write this for a few days now, but I can’t quite seem to find the words to express what I want to say. I’m not sure that I’ve found the right ones now, but I’m going to damn well try.
So for the past seven months, I’ve been working as a foreign language assistant at a French high school. I have two working days left, my last being Thursday, April 24. And boy is it going to suck. Now, as a teacher I don’t know if I should really disclose this information, but who cares. I can safely say that my favorite class is the group of literature seniors whom I work with. This past Thursday, I realized that it would be my last day not only with a few of my seniors, but also the last time I would see several teachers with whom I’ve worked with and gotten to know over the course of the year. I knew it would be strange, but I didn’t know quite how difficult it was going to be. Especially considering that for the past two months I’ve been quite homesick. But the moment I stepped off campus that day to walk to the train station, I started to cry. It wasn’t even my last day! No matter, I cried. Like those kind of silent sobs that burst through your throat, almost as if you weren’t expecting them. And I cried. All the way to the train station and all the way home. And then I stopped. And a sort of numbness set in. I felt nothing. Like it was too difficult to have thoughts in that moment. I just stared out the window and watched the scenery. It’s interesting that I prefer to ride backwards on trains and see the places I’ve already been than go forwards and look ahead to where I’m going. Maybe I reflect on the past too much, but I can’t help it sometimes. I like to reflect on my past choices and experiences and see how they’ve brought me to where I am today. Like when I first came to the high school, I felt like a freshman all over again, so lost and confused. Only this time, I was the only one rather than having a whole load of other people who were just as lost as I was, which was even worse. I could barely find my way around school without asking for directions, and it’s not exactly a big school. But then one day, as if by magic, I realized that I could navigate the halls with ease and knew my students names. While I didn’t quite fit, as I was neither a teacher nor a student, I had a place at the school. And things weren’t so scary anymore.
And so I thought back to these people and thought to myself, “How could you not realize that you would get attached? You hate goodbyes.” I thought about one student in particular, a very intelligent young man, almost too clever for his own good, and also a bit of a drama queen. And I realized that my closing words were not at all what I had wanted to say. But the thing with words is you can’t take them back once they have been said. Worse still, I may never have a chance to say what I really want because I will probably never see this person again. So I guess I will try and say it here because I can never manage to say the right thing to you. It’s funny, but you remind me very much of someone I knew in high school. He was brilliant and obnoxious, but in the end, a good person whose company I would prefer to have than go without. Likewise, I preferred to have you in class rather than have you be absent. Distractions and all. You make things interesting. Never lose that quality. If you can make life interesting for yourself, you will never be bored. Never stop questioning. Always look at the other side of the story and understand the other point of view. There is always more to learn, see, do, and experience. Never let the flame of curiosity go out. When it does, living becomes incredibly difficult, trust me. Remember to tell the important people in your life that you care about them, for you never know when they might not be there any longer. Sometimes hard work isn’t rewarded, but when it is, oh man, it’s a spectacular feeling. You will always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. With the exception of getting arrested, I suppose. Try as much as possible to avoid having a criminal record. That’s just good life advice I suppose. And maybe it’s cliché, but you are unique in the universe. You ARE worth it.
And ladies, anyone who gives a shit about your number, whether it be 0 or 25,000, is not someone you should be around. The only person who gets to have an opinion about your number is you.
And I’ll let you in on another secret. People do grow older, but you will never feel like an adult. Sure, at a certain point you will be doing adult things, like paying taxes and signing leases. And it is rewarding to become an independent person and realize that you can rely on yourself for most things. But if you want that moment where you stop and go, “Hey! I am an adult now!” It won’t happen. At least not in the near future. And those teenage insecurities unfortunately won’t go away once you leave high school or turn 20. But over time and through experience, you’ll manage to lower the volume of the demons screaming in your head to a dull whisper for at least most of the time.
Fuck, I know that Thursday is going to be an absolute sobfest. While I don’t know if my students will miss me as much as I will miss them - perhaps a few will - it doesn’t really matter. I know that sometimes things didn’t go well, and that’s okay, so thanks for being patient with me. We did share a few laughs, didn’t we? From discussing Game of Thrones and vacations in Sweden to disturbing the German class next door with our enthusiastic game of Pictionary, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I can genuinely say that I will miss each and every one of you. Thank you for a wonderful year. May our paths cross once more some day. And because I hate goodbyes, I will simply say this: à la prochaine.