Drinking The Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 25 2013

Ring of Hope

This week had been one of those weeks. Amidst the Chicago Public Schools strike, hearing about thousands of teachers fighting for their rights, it was business as usual at my charter school. I found myself waking up at the crack of dawn, dreading what was to come. The weather dropped arguably 20 degrees overnight, it was getting darker and darker when I woke up, and I couldn’t get my chatty 6th graders to shut up for more than one second. To top it off, one of my boys wrote an obscenely vulgar facebook message to a girl in my class, which was then sent to everyone in the entire grade. It was three days into the week, but it felt like it had been an eternity. When I walked into my bathroom, I saw the ring that I got in Israel and hadn’t worn in weeks.

In order to understand why that mattered, you need to understand the ring. You see, I never buy jewelry without having a specific meaning behind it. I play with my jewelry a lot, so each piece of jewelry I get comes with something I want to remind myself every time I touch it. I guess you could blame my therapist parents for that habit. I got the ring the last day in Israel to replace the thread we got to remind us of a vow we made the final night in Israel. My thread fell off within seconds, and I was determined to find a more permanent replacement to remind me of my own vow. I doubt that the Reality thread is like a birthday wish that won’t come true if you share it, so my vow was to never lose faith in what I was doing.

So all day on the last day, I searched frantically for the perfect ring to remind me of that vow. I walked through the Arab market, rejecting ring after ring for not being the right one. Finally, I found a perfectly sparkly ring that looked like a flower growing. Of course, it happened to be the most expensive one. I tried to bargain him down, and I did some, but still paid more than I would have liked to because he assured me it was “pure silver” and “the best quality.”  I took it back to the U.S. with me, and of course by day two, it had turned my finger completely green. Now every time I played with my ring, it just reminded me of the conniving jeweler that ripped me off. So I took it off and set it on my sink.

But this morning I woke up and the ring caught my eye. I thought about why I got it- to remind myself I couldn’t lose faith in what I was doing and in myself. It was easy to make that vow on a carefree night in Israel, but it is these weeks that it’s the most necessary- the weeks where nothing seems to be going your way, and you’re overwhelmed and frustrated. These are the weeks that separate truly successful leaders from everybody else. So even though it was cheap, I put the ring on this morning. No, my day wasn’t magically better as in some fairy tale, but guess what? It didn’t turn my finger green, so things are looking up.

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