For me TMC is two very distinct things: a great place to engage in new ideas with dedicated people and a chance to be myself with my friends and people who really get me. This post isn’t going to do a good job recapping my talk. It is not going to tell you the one thousand things I learned (posts soon on both those fronts, I hope) instead it’s going to talk about me because let’s be clear, I am the most important.
I am having a bad summer. I know that people hate it when teachers complain at all during the summer but, sorry not sorry, this summer has been rough. A combination of lack of routines and structure, living in an old new place, and brain chemistry has led to a fair amount of the sad.
I almost didn’t come to TMC. I told myself several times, “This is not mandatory, you do not have to go.” I told Michelle I didn’t think I could give a talk. The idea of four days of being social made me feel slightly (very very) ill. I’m not going to tell you it was magically okay when I showed up, that I felt amazing and happy the whole time. That there weren’t I few times I left places I was supposed to be to hide or that I introduced myself to all the new people the way I know I should of. I didn’t do a great job showing my mom around and I wore my name tag low and sat in corners. I found TMC hard.
The flipside to that is that it was, of course, exactly what I needed. From the first moment of seeing Lisa and Hedge to saying goodbye to Michelle I do not regret I went. I needed to see Fawn speak and to remember that she is not that far away. I needed to talk to Lani about Nashville and Vanderbilt and remember how fascinating I find graduate work. I needed to sit at dinner with Christopher Danielson (who is a two-name person I just realized) and hear him say “well you solved a different problem” to someone doing origami. I needed to see Max’s wedding pictures, Dave’s baby slide show, and find out that Maaatttttt named his tiny person Linus. I needed some of Eli’s, Matt’s, and Micheal’s unending energy and positivity. I needed to hear stories of life from Tina, Michelle, Rachel, Brian, Jasmine, James, Lisa, and Hedge. I absolutely needed Heather’s amazing story about her inability to switch lunchroom seats ever. I needed to be reminded that everyone loves my mom. I needed Dan to mock me for being offended at the piano bar but to still leave with me. I needed to meet new people like Eric and Andrew and Daryl and Laurie. Or people I talked to all the time but never met like Megan and Elisa. I needed to remember that I could give a presentation because actually I know stuff and am good at it. I could probably fill a thousand words with this stuff.
Mostly, I needed to be reminded that I do not teach in a bubble. Mostly, I needed to be reminded that I do not live in a bubble. I am part of something. I am so lucky to have found this community and to be a member of it. Even when everything else is less than stellar the MTBoS and it’s terrible sounding acronym is still there and they don’t care if you hide in a corner or stand in the front. They just want you to show up.
Because as Lisa would say, “It’s about community, stupid.”