Growing up, I always thought that I had a level of toughness. It wasn’t toughness like I was going to go fight, or that you didn’t want to mess with me, but mental toughness. I’ve always felt that no one was ever going to be able to hold me down. Put an obstacle in my way and I’m going to find my way around it. Or I’m going to buckle down and plow through it.
In the last two years, as I was introduced to my own privilege, I’ve decided that I’m not as tough as I thought. I certainly still feel as though I can overcome any obstacle, but I’m becoming aware that it isn’t just my resilience that allows me to continue down the path I’ve set. There are a lot of other factors that have made my success possible.
In the last several months, with the pandemic, racial injustices, financial strain and political turmoil, my lack of toughness has been put on display. I feel as though I’ve given in to more in the last year than I had in my previous years combined. I feel as though I’ve been locked in a house with my family for nearly a year, and I haven’t been able to use basketball as an outlet for my frustrations. I feel myself giving excuses like “yeah, but my daughters won’t listen to me and they’re driving me crazy” or “yeah, but if my wife would just listen more or help more I wouldn’t be having as hard of a time.”
On the flip side, I’ve asked myself questions like “why won’t my students show their faces in class” and “why doesn’t so-and-so just turn in their homework” and “why do I have to explain this again just because [insert name here] was late to class?” I haven’t given you the grace that you deserve. And most importantly, I haven’t recognized the toughness that you’ve displayed.
At my age, I’ve already built my foundation and am now struggling with the weight on my shoulders, but you are still putting together who you are and what you’re about. You’ve shown toughness of which I could only dream. I hold no delusions that my home is more hectic than yours. I know that I’m not the only person who’s typical stress outlets have disappeared. And yet, here you are, continuing to fight through each obstacle, turning mountains into hiccups. You continue to press when it would be so easy to fold. I am so impressed with every one of you and the perseverance you’ve demonstrated. And most importantly, I know that the foundation you are building today within your own lives will make for a stronger America when you move on from your time at BHS.
The future is in good hands.
A Proud Teacher