When My Forward-ness Means Leaving Things Behind



If you are moving forward, you are going to have to leave people behind.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but I thought I would lead with the thing no one wants to tell you. Moving forward means sometimes people get left behind. It totally sucks, but it is totally necessary.

Forward means movement, and movement means not everything comes with you. It means not everyone comes with you. I know. I hate it too.

Moving forward in your career, or your beliefs, or even in your location, means that not everyone will follow you. Not everyone is supposed to follow you. Sometimes you need to move forward and they need to stay. Sometimes you move forward in different directions. It is messy and awful and it hurts—this moving forward thing. It is just plain hard sometimes. A lot of times.

Change is not for the faint of heart.

This is what I need to tell you. Don’t wait for them. Don’t wait to move forward until everyone you know is pushing you there. Don’t wait to link arms. Don’t wait for approval. You know when it is time. You already have all the permission you need. You will be surprised at the people who move forward with you. You will be sad, but it will be time.

One of the strangest things about moving forward, is that even when we both head in the forward direction, it doesn’t mean we will be heading in the same direction. Your forward and my forward may very well take us apart. It may mean to stay for you and to leave for me. My soldiering forward may look like your going back. There is no way for me to know about your journey, no way for me to articulate exactness of mine to you. We just move forward, if we are brave, if we are listening, if we are trying. We just move forward, and so often that means leaving things behind.

I have four more Mondays left, and then I too will be moving forward. I am packing up my classroom, giving away my best posters and my literary action figures. I am moving forward and I am leaving a lot behind.

My best friend and I became best friends because we commute together. While I know our friendship will withstand this change, my decision to move forward has changed the trajectory of our relationship.We won’t see each other every day, we won’t need to talk about what we are teaching in class, we won’t know all the same students and co-workers and be able to start a conversation in the middle because we were both at that meeting that one of us wants to talk about. I have been mourning this loss all year.

No one will call me Ms. Norman. I will not sit behind the big desk or expose kids to the jokes in Romeo and Juliet. I will not be a teacher, and I will have no students. The student/teacher relationship is special, and I am good at bonding with my students. I wonder about the teacher parts of myself, where they will go when they are not Ms. Norman, the High School Teacher.

In many ways this last year, and especially these final weeks are a slow and painful death. Grief after grief I am experiencing this time. I will not watch my current students graduate, I will lose track of many of my colleagues, I will no longer have a reason to go to the great taco place right next to the school. There are just so many tiny deaths, when it is finally time to move forward.

But if we are a people who believe in ressurection, in redemption, in restoration, we should not be a people afraid of what we might lose in the forward-ness of it all. We can meet change with an expectency that the old will fade, but the new will come. We can trust that there is goodness even amidst the loss of change.