As kids, we are always asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For that moment, we allow ourselves to imagine our wildest dreams and the thing that would make us the happiest. With the world at our feet and our hearts young, that’s how we find our answer. Here I will tell you why you should say yes to the things that scare you.
Once, when I was in fourth grade, I was asked this question. I drew a picture of me as a doctor at The University of Texas. After high school, I completed my first two years of my undergraduate degree at Amarillo College. I was on a pre-medicine track and it was not until I was taking a social psychology class that I discovered that what I wanted to do “when I grew up” was not be a doctor after all. I switched my major to Psychology and that same year I started working in an elementary school to save money to transfer to my dream school, The University of Texas
Much to my surprise, that elementary school had lost a teacher and asked me if I would be the permanent substitute teacher for that role. I had only been a substitute teacher for two weeks and certainly didn’t feel like I was prepared to take on this sort of challenge. In the end, I said yes. That year single-handedly shaped my drive for what I want to do with my life.
Take a Leap and Say Yes!
In the fall of 2019, after my teaching year, I transferred to The University of Texas at Austin. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2021 and, a few months before graduation, one of my friends sent me a TikTok showing a company called “Meddeas.”
Within 20 seconds of watching the video, I knew I had to apply. It wasn’t until after my second interview that I started feeling the nerves, before that it had felt like something that was too good to be true. I received my placement to teach in a small village and found myself facing the biggest, scariest decision of my life so far.
Could I possibly do something this crazy? This adventurous? This far away from my home? With my
heart pounding and butterflies in my stomach, I found myself settling into life in a new country and living
with a host family. I had decided to take a leap, and I said yes!
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
This month I will have been living in Spain for seven months. I’ve learned so much, pushed myself, and I have increased my passion for education. Because of one “yes,” I am successfully living out my answer to that infamous question.
As an English Language Assistant, every day I get the privilege to go to an excellent school, spend time with equally passionate teachers, and share my knowledge of English with the students. I teach my students English, but most importantly I teach them the value of education and the importance of becoming a lifelong learner, so that they may one day pursue their dreams as I did.
I find that encouraging my students to pursue their goals is one of the most important and most fulfilling things I do as an educator. A few weeks ago, I asked every single one of my students, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We are in Spain, so naturally the vast majority of them said they want to be a football player.
Side note: this is still strange to me because in the USA, we call this soccer and it’s not as widely loved as it is here, either.
It made my heart smile to see them stop and truly think about their dreams for a moment. Especially the young ones, who still love school and their teachers, who looked at me with big eyes and smiles and said, “I want to be a teacher.”
Help the Students in Their Journey
In my classroom, I prioritize having fun and encouraging my students. I know learning a language is hard. I’m learning Spanish myself, and I think it’s important to be transparent in this. I may be their Language Assistant, but I still have things of my own to learn.
Making sure my classroom has a supportive atmosphere is my main goal. I want my students to know I am there to not criticize their learning, but to stand beside them and help them in their journey. They have lots to learn and many years of school left, but I hope they will look back and remember these younger years with gratitude. I am just one Language Assistant but I aim for them to improve their knowledge of the English language in hopes this can further help them achieve their goals and dreams.
My students are excited, fresh, young and full of hope. The potential is boundless. I have seen them improve and grow so much over the past seven months, that I hope they achieve everything they set out to do. I dream that they can be as proud of themselves as I am of them, and I dream they can always find the courage to say yes to hard things and to never give up.
Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” I am a twenty-four-year-old Texas girl who is now living in a small village in Spain. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my life would take me to where I am now, but I didn’t let fear keep me from an amazing adventure. I had the courage to pursue something hard, and it has been worth every challenge faced along the way. This life is not guaranteed, and it certainly is not guaranteed to be easy.
But, the scary, out-of-your-comfort-zone things, and the times saying “yes” require a whole lot of courage, are the adventures in life that allow us to grow and shape ourselves into our best selves. Don’t
be afraid to do something scary. I’m undoubtedly grateful that I did.