Holding My Heart

Shanna - Houston, Texas
Entered on February 28, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Holding my Heart

I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in fortune. I don’t believe in superstition. But I do believe that everyone has a destiny. I don’t mean the star-crossed lovers type of destiny. I mean true destiny, a plan for life. And boy did I have mine.

My entire life I had one unassailable talent: argumentation. While other kids were learning to skip rope and tie their shoes, I was watching other people argue and trying to find ways to pick apart their arguments to make them better. I saw argumentation as an art. Van Gogh painted The Starry Night; Monet painted Lilies; I painted people into a corner. I remember exactly where I was when I won my first argument. I remember the blue and white wallpaper in the room, the aroma of hot cheese enchiladas baking in the oven, and the feeling of the crisp white shirt on my back. I was five years old. I had backed my father into a corner, and when I had won the argument, he looked up at me with a look of proud defeat in his eyes, “You should be a lawyer,” he said magnanimously.

Those words were planted in my mind as strongly as an oak tree is planted. The words began to sprout and before long I had worked my way through college and law school and ended up in a Top 200 law firm. I worked my butt off. I woke up before the sun rose and went to sleep long after the sun went down. I worked Saturdays; I worked Sundays; I worked Christmas. I earned my big salary. I spent it too. I got a swank loft and a Lexus to park in the garage. Chanel, Ralph Lauren, and Prada were practically members of my family. I was living the high life. But I was not destined for the life of a lawyer. I kept hearing destiny calling me: “This is not the life that was chosen for you. You will abandon your high society life and live the life of a servant.” I ignored the call of destiny like I ignore the sound of my alarm every morning. But destiny had a hold on me and it was unwilling to let go.

After wrestling with destiny for two years, I realized that I would never win and I finally gave in. I remember the lump in my throat and the butterflies in my stomach as I sold almost all of my valuables and decided to let destiny control my life. I was to be a teacher. A teacher! When I thought of teachers, I thought of poverty, poor fashion, and a lack of intelligence. This was to be my destiny?

I can still hear the sound of the bell on that hot August day in 2006. The “beeeeeep” signified my new life; I would be forever changed. Like a herd of cattle, students started flowing into my room. They were nameless children to me. I had but one goal in my mind. I was there to teach them and they were there to learn. Little did I know, in a matter of a few weeks, these students would hold my heart. I vividly remember some of the students who filled the room: the blond boy who never talked, but could write the most beautiful essays, the loud football player who wouldn’t stop talking, and the girl with the red hair who loved the Longhorns.

Over the weeks, I came to realize that these kids weren’t just my students; they were my heart. I remember the excitement I felt when I saw the fabulous drawing by the boy who always looked at the clock during 7th period. I remember crying when I read the poignant memoir by the girl who lost her brother at such a young age. I remember heart to heart talks with the girl who just needed someone to listen to her.

The bodies that warmed the chairs in my classroom for fifty-five minutes each day soon became so much more. I cared so much about each student. I was vested in their lives. For the first time, I knew what it felt like to be a mother. I wanted the best for my students, and I wanted them to know that I cared. My belief in money and power soon faded away and I was left with one thing: my students. I will never be the same.