I am bowing out of teaching at the end of 2017. It’s been a long and richly rewarding career and I have defined myself by it for well over 30 years. But now it’s time to move on and pursue my other passions. Writing is clearly one of them. The other, long hidden but still rumbling just below the surface, is dancing.
Before I submerge myself in my new life, I’d like to leave a single message for all the pupils and students I have ever taught …
Go where you are celebrated and not where you are tolerated!
That sounds easy enough, right? Actually it’s much harder than you think. Try it out. You want to crack the nod in that cool group, the one anybody who is anybody, is part of. You hover on the edges. You try everything in your power to push that door open. It opens, just a little. It opens enough for you to be able to peep in, accept the odd condescending nod, perhaps even a reluctant smile. Whenever you encounter the A-group, you try again. Maybe this time, you’ll get it right. Sooner or later, you’ll absorb whatever it is they’ve got, that you haven’t. Once again, you walk back to your corner, lick your wounds and beat yourself up. You are just not cool enough, smart enough, pretty enough, blue-eyed enough, to be included. It’s your fault. You’ll keep on trying, until you get it right. You are nearly there. One day, they’ll turn towards you. Notice you. The door will open properly…
At the same time, there is a motley crew of fun people in your peripheral vision. They laugh a lot and seem to be slightly crazy. Each one of them looks completely different. Some are super slim and others are plump, bordering on fat. Hairstyles range from full-on Afros to stick straight bobs. There seems to be no dress code here. Everyone wears exactly what they feel comfortable in. Weird. But you do notice some great outfits that you wouldn’t have dared to try. “Come and join us,” one of them shouts. You smile (reluctantly) and turn back to the A- group. The door is a little more a-jar today. It’s worth the wait.
The A-group seems to be tolerating your presence. Well, that’s a good start! Soon it will be different. You watch and learn. It’s just a matter of cracking the code. The motley bunch are having so much fun, it’s irritating. You can barely concentrate. The A-door swings open and you gasp in excitement. You make your way towards it and just as you are about to enter the room, someone slams it shut. Not on purpose though. They just didn’t see you. “Don’t be a baby,” you tell yourself. You turn to slip away, back to your corner. A tap on your shoulder stops you. The snazzy Afro hairstyle is grinning at you and indicating towards the group. “Come and join us. We’d love you to.”
And they surround you. “What’s your name?” “Where do you come from?” “Such pretty green eyes.” “We’re off dancing. Want to come?”
Space opens up in the circle. Your stomach has stopped churning. That dark-haired guy with the silver ring in his ear, offers you a drink. People begin to laugh at your remarks. “You’re so funny,” Ms stick straight blonde hair tells you. Warmth floods your body and you soak up the vibe. But suddenly everyone jumps up and moves towards the car park. You freeze on the spot. They’re leaving. Without you. Afro chic turns back. “Aren’t you coming?” Her smile overwhelms you and you make your way towards her. She reaches out for your hand and your heart jumps into your throat.
You decide which one makes the blood pump through your veins 🙂