Facing Your Ghosts

28 Aug

I have a ghost in my head. I haven’t seen him in person in four years, but he lingers there, in the corner of my eye; a spectre, the mirror reflection I compare myself to, wondering if I’ll ever measure up.

mr. robb, in 2008, with more than 20 years of choral education under his belt, took the best of the best from all his years back to gilroy’s sister city in japan one last time. I was so blessed to be counted among his number.

This week threw me for a loop. I work for a private school, and I’m in charge of teaching all of my teachers in California how to teach my subject area of expertise. This week, my best teacher quit. And I was asked to fill in. In the classroom, all day, in my area of expertise.

I’ve never been more terrified in my life.

Not when I had to teach the same kids other subjects, not when I’ve had to teach my peers how to do what I do (have you ever had to teach adults? Nerve-wracking, let me tell you), never. If I could choose any subject to teach, music – my passion, my reason for living – would not be it. Totally counterintuitive, right? Unless you’re me, and have trained with some of the best vocal teachers in the world. When you have that background to live up to, no matter how good I am, so matter how gifted a teacher I am, a vocalist I am, I’m going to fail. Because I’ll never be as good as they are.

And yet…

They must have started where I am. They had to have had their first day of school, their first day of teaching, their first piece of music they weren’t quite sure how it went but had to teach anyway. They must have, because no one gets to where they are without taking that first step. I know this…I know this!!! And yet, I’m wracked with insecurity because I won’t be able to do with my kids what they did with me, 20 years into their careers.

I’m not Greg Fritsch. I’m not Mr. Robb.

I’m just little ol’ me.

Nobody. 28 years old without the degree I’d aspired to all these years. 28 years old, only halfway through my 30 before 30 list with little time left to go. 28 years old, filled with a 19-year-old’s zest for life but wanting to have accomplished so much more by now. I never aspired to be Mr. Robb, not without so much more schooling than I have to date. And I don’t have it. And yet today, I have to be him.

Or maybe I don’t.

He’s my ghost, the person I want to be when I stand before a choir of children, because i know how much he moulded me, shaped my life, by being my choir teacher. He’s been my dad, my mentor…but I don’t have to make him my idol. As much as he was the spectre of what I have to live up to as a vocal teacher, he was never part of my life to make me feel like I couldn’t measure up. If I’ve learned anything in the 11 years since I graduated high school, I’ve learned that he was there to inspire me, to help me realize the best parts of myself, like any educator worth their salt would. If he stood before me today, he would tell me I could do it. That I had to make my own way, one step at a time, and that I couldn’t compare myself to where he was 25 years into his career. I didn’t get married thinking I could have the house, the car, the career America sets us up tp expect, but I wanted to step into my career at the level it took him 25 years to achieve.

How arrogant am I?

Maybe I can’t be the next Phil Robb. Maybe one day I will be, I can only hope. But for now I’m going to be the best Mrs. A. there is. I’m scared to death, but any teacher worth their salt started where I am. And this is where I am. Starting at the beginning. Stuck in between the bottom of the barrel and the greatness I grew up with.

Here’s hoping for a successful tomorrow.

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6 Responses to “Facing Your Ghosts”

  1. katieleigh August 29, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    You can do this, friend. You can start well and start bravely. Hoping for a great day for you. xoxo

  2. Adelle Gabrielson August 29, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I believe you have everything you need to face this and do it well. I believe in you!

  3. Elaine August 29, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    You can do this! Praying for you and the kids you will be blessing ^_^ Just be you and realize that you as you are, and you teaching what and how you teach will make a great impact on these kids! Even when you get to the point where you have 20+ years of experience, you don’t need to be someone else… just you :)

    Also… Mr. Cunningham in 8th grade for me :} Haven’t thought of him in a long time. More than skills learned… the kindness, and his fostering the growth of my love of art… those are the things that he gave me that truly inspired me. I remember him saying, “You already *are* an artist.” … believing that (rather than thinking I want to be an artist eventually) really changed things for me <3 Would love to sit & talk with him over a cup of coffee.

    • Christy A. August 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      That’s so funny…February I wad thinking I need to call Mr. Robb and take him for a coffee. Thanks, friend.

  4. Cara Olsen August 29, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Christy, I admire your openness and transparency. I am often hesitant — though capricious obstinance most always wins out — to publish posts of this nature because people often misinterpret them as a cry for help or an invitation to tell you what you “should” be doing or “be grateful” or “just smile,” and a platoon similarly limpid platitudes that really should be reserved for the inside of fortune cookies.

    All I want you to know is that I am praying for you, I believe in you, and more importantly He believes in you, and never would have allowed you this opportunity if He wasn’t going to use it to your benefit and His glory.

    Much love to you!

    ~ Cara

    • Christy A. August 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Thanks Cara. You’re always such an encouragement. You know, I’ve never thought about the possibility that those kinds of posts might solicit unhelpful responses. Truthfully, they’re the posts I often get the most feedback from, all of it a blessing, most of it with stories/anecdotes about how my experience is relatable to others’ lives. I’ve never regretted this kind of writing, because I’m often surprised at how it ends up bring necessary – necessary for me to get it out, and necessary foot someone who needed to hear that someone else was going through something hard, too. Love you, girl! Thanks for the prayers, I’ve been praying for your sleep!

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