why shame?

A couple weeks ago, one of my old professors came into my office.

I was genuinely happy to see her. Although the subject matter of her class had not been my favorite (assessments), she was one of my favorite professors. She, with her olive-freckled skin, corkscrew black curls, and infectious smile, made my day that much brighter. We chatted for a bit. I updated her on my life and she updated me on hers. She had just returned from a principalship in L.A. Los Angeles! Notoriously one of the tougher school districts in the country, I was duly impressed.

For some reason, when I run into these old professors (which occurs with some frequency here in a small town and with me working at the same university), I feel a little anxious. I feel a twinge in my stomach when I explain why I'm working in an office instead of a classroom, why I'm excited for my husband to graduate. I feel...ashamed, almost, and I find myself twisting my plans a little for their benefit.

"When he graduates, I'll stay at home, for a little bit."
"I started here right after graduation, to put TJ through school."

Shawn (we always called her by her first name), smiled that smile and said "They grow so fast." Her response bolstered me, and we said a happy "See you around."

But now I'm full of thoughts. Why the shame? Why do I feel the need to skirt around my life plans for their benefit?

I suppose I don't want to disappoint them. I don't want them to think I've fallen short of my potential, or I wasted my time with them. Of course this is probably silly; they are teachers (who happen to teach education) and they know their influence wasn't for naught. Still, I wonder what they do think. I had a professor make a snarky comment about marriage when he found out I was married already (so was he). I was the only married person in my cohort and I'm now the only one with a child (that I know of). I just feel like my goals and my drive was always different, even if I don't feel they are any less valuable or worthwhile.

It's amazing how differently conversations with old institute teachers goes.

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