“Who wants to be normal when you can be unique?” I admit; I’m a total sucker for these type of quotes. I only need the hint of a reminder that unique is better and I’m firing up my own drumline again. Being an enneagram 1, I can’t help but look around and notice things that could be better. It leaves me always changing, always reinventing, and always working for better. For a lot of years the only thing constant for me was change. Change is good, new and fresh is fun and very much needed at times, but my black-and-white thinking led me to focus on change and make no space for consistency.
When I began my student teaching, I remember the first few days of sitting and watching. I sat back and learned the schedule, the routines, and the verbiage the teacher used to explain things. At that time the teaching market was oversaturated and even before graduation there was intense pressure to find ways to make yourself stand out among the hundreds of others competing against you for one job. So as it slowly became my turn to take the lead teaching, I thought I needed to come up with better, bigger, and more fun ways of doing the things this teacher had been doing half of the school year. This classroom of first graders did appreciate the fun part, but the abrupt changes I imposed wreaked havoc on those poor kids. They never knew what was coming next, which may be a fun aspect on a first date but is not fun when you’re seven years old and you have always done math right after lunch. I would smile when the students said, “This isn’t how Mrs. Carretti does it.” I thought that was the point – to be new, different. But a few weeks into this gig where everyone left frustrated and upset at the end of the day, I began to realize they didn’t want new and better; they wanted consistency and predictability.
I have often made the mistake of chasing after “different” just for the sake of uniqueness, just because I felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. While change can be good, I can’t make it the only focus of my life. I know that for me, I rely on the comfort of the stability those around me bring to my life. With predictability also comes security, and that isn’t a bad thing. So I now remind myself to keep finding the balance between new and old, different and same. After all, life isn’t black and white; it’s more of an awkward shade of gray.