How Following A Feeling Reinvented My Life

Have you ever stopped and wished there was a blueprint or guideline for every phase of your life? How wonderful would it be if there was a book entitled, “How to be the world’s best mom” or “student”, “daughter”, “sister”, “wife”, “girlfriend”. Books, articles and journals have been written by psychologists, sociologists, and life coaches on what we could do to be better at these things, yet I am a firm believer that what we should be working on being better at is entitled, “How to be the world’s best me”.

With this question in mind, the first thing we should ponder about is, “Who am I?”. Not what my favorite hobbies are, my preference of color, types of culinary arts I enjoy the most but what makes me… me. Yes, these little things make up part of who I am; nevertheless, they are not the essence of who I am.

Throughout my life, I’ve always felt the need to fit in somewhere, to belong. Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something bigger, a purpose. My teenage years consisted of changing the type of clothes, music, hairstyle and even the way I would emphasize words such as “dude” to “duuuuuuuuuude” to accommodate to the environment that surrounded me at the time.

It wasn’t until college when I could be myself without the fear of nobody around liking me. Suddenly it was Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, and John Locke whose words and teachings from centuries ago that mattered. It was the determination of my statistics professor on finding a specific formula, the passion with which my American History professor taught The Civil War with and the romance my Latin American literature teacher spoke with that I admired with a sparkle in my eyes and a love in my heart for a whole new world. It wasn’t about who I wanted to impress anymore but to push myself into how much I could learn. Naturally when you love something, you want to share it. Teach it. Shout it to the world, and most of all show them how to love what you’ve learned to love.

My love for teaching started here. Especially my desire to teach children. Research has shown that the majority of people who turn out to be successful experienced an event with someone specific in their life who told them that they could be anything they wanted to be.

During my last semester of college, I was given the opportunity to work as an intern in the department of foreign affairs specifically with the General Consulate of Spain located in Los Angeles, CA. This had been a dream, a goal. It was as if it was the world’s timing letting me know that I was starting to make it, that all of my late nights at the library, tons of caffeinated drinks to keep me up which led to sleepless nights of reading were finally paying off. The moment I received that phone call saying I was the one selected for a highly competitive internship, out of all of the candidates, I burst out into tears of joy in the middle of campus. This moment will be forever ingrained in my heart. It took me months to prepare for this new journey, but since I had grown up in Southern California, I thought I would adapt to life there pretty smoothly. But, well, you know how people say life is full of surprises, it sure surprised me.

Upon my arrival to Los Angeles, I seemed to settle in well in my new downtown apartment surrounded by all of my personal belongings. Nevertheless, something felt off from day one. I kept on trying to shake it off and tell myself I was only nervous about a new change. The feeling got worse throughout the days. I found myself in a constant state of sadness. As if some force was trying to scream at me “you don’t belong here!”. But how? How could I not belong there? I had worked so hard for it, and it was impossible that place wasn’t where I was supposed to be.  Due to a series of events, I found myself dropping everything, packing and leaving the the internship.

My life was a mess, a chaos to be exact. How could I had given up something I had truly desired with all of my heart because of a feeling. I had read hundreds of psychology books, practiced plenty of therapeutic techniques which I had thought would help. Nevertheless, nothing helped.

Well, just as they say life is full of surprises, they also say that after the storm comes the rainbow. After moving home, I struggled, for some time, to regain all of the qualities and traits that made me…me. Throughout that time, plenty of job opportunities came up and none felt quite right. Until one that involved me being at an elementary and middle school for half of the day popped up. I left that interview feeling this sense of belonging, as if I was meant to be there all along. You really can’t compare the love of a child. The way they admire you, thank you and share with you their deepest fears has no comparison. But the most important lesson I’ve learned during my time there is that of love. A child’s love is selfless, honest and expects nothing in return and that is how the world should be. Oh, how beautiful would it be if we could all love as children do.

And now, now I find myself not in Law School, but working towards graduate school and being a full-time teacher. People ask me how I can give up the goals I’ve always aspired to for being “just a teacher”. When these questions arise, I think to myself that being “just a teacher” and learning from those children every day for the rest of my life gives me more satisfaction than any legal case I could ever win.

Life has a way of sneaking past you. It’s as if time is more than a number. It’s smiles, laughs, the smell of freshly made pancakes on Saturday mornings, the way your significant other’s eyes sparkle when you look at them. It’s the way your younger sister recognizes the smell of your hair from far away, how your grandma’s hands always feel so full of love and energy yet with so many wrinkles on them. So what I guess I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t always work how you wanted it to work, and you don’t always receive answers the way you think you’re supposed to get them. Trust that everything will work out exactly how it has to work out on the way to becoming the best you.

Donnaly Flores is employed within the education field, graduated with her Bachelors of Arts in Latin American Studies and Spanish and is starting the application process for her Juris Doctorate and Masters in Social Work at San Diego State University all while going through the process of obtaining her teachers credential in the state of California. Donnaly was born and raised in Southern California where she enjoys to surf on the weekends. During her college years in the state of Utah she helped the Orem Community Hospital with their special needs department at Friday’s Kids Respite. Donnaly donates her free time to participate in charity events and any volunteer opportunities that become available within her community.

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