Pivot Points

She stood there smiling, holding two folders out to me.  Without hesitating for a moment, I said, “Okay” and took one.  And in that moment, my life changed completely.

They say hindsight is 20/20, and though it’s cliche, it is true.  People talk about life-changing moments all the time-weddings, funerals, childbirths, diagnoses.  I’ve had my fair share of these.  Ask me what my top “favorite” moments in life are and I’ll name my wedding and babies being born in a second.  Nothing changes life more.  But as I look back on this crazy road I’ve taken, I see that there are other, just as important points, that aren’t as obvious.

I think of them as pivot points, and I think we all have them, if we only think hard enough.  They are points in our lives where we made a decision, often seemingly completely inconsequential, but that decision had an absolutely enormous impact on our lives going forward.  Pivot points are the kind of moments that when you look back, you think to yourself-“If I would have done that differently, nothing would be the same.”

My own pivot point came when I was working as preschool teacher at a Catholic school.  My mentor came to me one day during my second year with an issue.  A local university had assigned her two student teachers by accident, and she wanted to know if I would take one on.  She held out the two folders that had been sent.  She was a fantastic teacher and a wonderful mentor, and I agreed to help without a second thought, plucking a folder from her hand.

And then, as if stacked by a cosmic hand, the dominoes began to fall.

The student teacher I had chosen at random (who was wonderful) had an adviser that had worked in education for years all over our county, including my Alma mater district, the district I had always wanted to return to as a teacher.

That same adviser happened to observe me teaching one day and pulled me aside afterwards, uttering a phrase that shocked me to the core: “You’re amazing and I feel you’re being wasted here-would you be interested at a job in Perry?”  I stuttered my surprise before answering, “Yes!” I could barely believe my luck.  She responded: “I’ll be making some phone calls for you.”

Within two months I had had an interview and had landed a job at the district that had always been my ultimate goal.  The district I had fruitlessly sent resumes and applications to year after year, with not even an iota of a response.

Fast forward two years and I had been moved into sharing a classroom with our elementary gifted teacher due to space issues.  All year long, I heard her lessons as she worked with these amazing kids.  I’d always wanted to teach gifted students “someday,” maybe “whenever” I decided to get my Master’s degree…something that had barely crossed my mind.

I was a reading tutor working part time, desperate for my “own” classroom and a full-time spot to help support my family and realize my dream.  I refused to leave Perry, but I needed something to change. And then my principal walked in and told me not one, but two rare gifted positions had opened in the district for the next year.  She couldn’t think of a better person to apply than me.  I was floored.

Now, I’m entering my sixth year of teaching gifted students.  I’ve received a meaningful Master’s degree in talent development education.  I have never, in my life, been happier about my work.  I wake up every single day excited to do my job.  To quote another cliche, I could win the lottery tomorrow and I’d still go to work.

And yet…it all comes down to that pivot point.  I didn’t know what I was doing that day.  I was helping my colleague and friend out.  I just grabbed a folder.  I didn’t even think.  And that tiny moment changed my entire life.  It boggles the mind.  Sometimes, it makes me sad to think that there may have been other such moments that passed by without my knowledge.

Do you have a pivot point?  More than one?  What seemingly inconsequential action changed your life monumentally, for better or worse?  I’d love to hear.

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