Last September to December I got to live my dream: I became a College Professor. Yet, if I had listened to any number of my fears, I could have talked myself out of even applying for the position let alone actually meeting this challenge.
For 20 years I've been passionate about teaching and this course seemed like a perfect fit as it would incorporate both career coaching and student success strategies, two topics near and dear to me. Add to that this goal was suddenly in reach years before I expected as normally one needs a Master’s degree (which I don't have). I learned firsthand how much fear can be generated when your highest dream for yourself is within reach.
What if I failed? I had never previously taught full semester courses on my own having instead focused on workshops, guest speaking, video tutorials, or helping people one-on-one. If I failed this wouldn't just impact me, but my students as well.
Also, I had no experience with grading papers. How would I do this fairly? And what about creating three hours of content every week? When I applied and accepted the position I didn't know if I'd be given resources or if I'd need to create the course from scratch.
Even logistical matters were a source of fear. After a lifetime of being fearful of driving I had previously faced that fear and got my full G driver's license just two months earlier. As a new driver, how would I handle commuting the notoriously scary 401 each day, 1.25+ hours each way? What about when the weather turned colder in November and December?
I share all these fears so that you can identify with some of this. In short, I was scared.
Thankfully, I also had a past history of finding fears and meeting them head on. In high school I was terrified of public speaking so I joined the Debating Team. In college I was so scared of 'donorcycles' so I took a motorcycle safety course. The fear was so strong that I was affected physically with shaking and other things that are gross.
Another example is when I was approached to make 30 video tutorials on Google Docs/Drive. Once again, it was not easy for me. I had made and published tutorials in the past but it was one thing to do them for me (and take the safe route and call them ‘for fun’) and quite another to know that it would be a paid contract and they'd be reviewed, judged, and published widely.
These are just a few of many examples, but in all of them I could have taken the safe way out and not met these challenges. Meeting one's fears is hard. It's scary. It ups the risk of failing. And, yet, if the alternative is to stagnate, I choose to grow. To learn. To become more self-reliant. To know that I'm stronger than my fears. And you are too.
You are stronger than your fears and, from many years of experience, I can say it’s worth facing them too.
I not only ended up teaching last semester three sections to 92 students but concurrently completed a five course program in Teaching Effectiveness where I was able to apply the knowledge immediately for my students' benefit. Teaching was a dream come true and yet I also got to see the reality of just how much marking is required -- a potential 1288 assignments in my case. If you see a teacher, thank them for all the work they do not just in front of the class but also behind the scenes. And now onto my next fear and challenge.