Please welcome our guest blogger, Mima! Mima is blogging today about mistakes. It's a powerful lesson for all of us. Let's listen and learn:
Your Biggest Mistake
Newsweek has a regular editorial where people reflect and share about their biggest mistakes. This serial interests me because I am the author of interactive fiction. I make it my business to think about choices, consequences, and the psychology of feeling empowered vs. trapped. Why are some people challenged by difficulty while others crumple?
Life isn’t a choose your own adventure, with replays and takebacks. But I love reflecting on what could have been. I guess it’s my writer’s imagination. I use several categories of choices when I design my branching-path stories: the major, the minor, and the dire. Today I’m focusing on the major choices that have come up in your life.
Share a major choice you made, with a thought about what could have been. Share regrets or confirmations as you choose. Commenters are entered for a free Take Control book of their choice.
After I graduated, I interviewed for jobs as a school librarian at several schools. School A called me and I was delirious with relief. It was a forty-five minute commute, a small, rural high school with an outdated program that would need a total overhaul and virtually no fiction section, which I found telling and appalling. A week later, School B called me. They were a fifteen minute drive, a large suburban district with many resources, including a higher salary. I stammered on the phone. I WANTED THAT JOB. But I had already told School A I would go with them. I had not signed a contract. I asked School B for time.
I called my mother and cried. I called my fiance and cried. Both of them advised me to take School B. There would be no personal or professional issue with it, they assured me. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t. This other school had decided on me fast, and I had the distinct impression I was not School B’s first choice. I stayed with School A.
I had to get up at 5AM for four years. I was twenty-one and many of my students were only a few years younger. I was learning a career with a hostile clerk, no budget, and a tepid administration. I cried in the magazine closet often. Every day I went to a job with the deep belief I was not effective and had NO idea how to become so. When my fiance found a job five hours away, I was giddy at the prospect of leaving after only four years.
In hindsight, I can blame the district for not giving me any teacher-training, not the slightest bit of support that a classroom teacher received in management, curriculum, active lessons, record keeping, none of it. In hindsight I can realize that putting a twenty-one year old in charge of eighty young adults is a rough road.
With my imagination, I wonder what working at that larger school with a robust library program would have been like. What kind of support I would have had, what kind of leadership would have shaped me, how the student body was of a different economic class. All the dawns and deer accidents and dangerous blizzard driving I would have missed…
And I would have missed the defining moment of my career as a teacher, when I was on the verge of burning out two years into the job, exhausted and beaten down with failure. An eighteen-year-old hair stylist young mother looked at me out of the corner of her eyes and said, “Before you, I didn’t know people wrote books about people like me.”
“What?” I said eloquantly.
“That book you left on the table. When we were all sitting around saying no book ever told the truth about us. You didn’t say anything. You took it off the shelf without even looking and put it on the table. And I read it. I mean, the whole thing. I could see it in my head. Do you have more books like that?”
I gave her some. Then I went to the closet and cried. She never finished any of those other books. Later, she told me she didn’t think she’d ever get through another whole book, not with the life she had. But she had read one. And it made her think. Because of me.
Wow, Mima! That's amazing. That one book made her think, probably made her dream. And with luck, she passed some of that thinking and dreaming on to the people around her and perhaps her children. Well done!
Mima lives in the Finger Lakes of NY. She is the author of 19 fantasy romances which can all be seen at mimawithin.com. The Take Control series features interactive, choice-based fiction stories in the scifi, contemporary western, and paranormal genres.
Blog readers, please comment and share your choices, regrets, could-have-beens. Comment for a chance to win one of Mima's Take Control series books. A random winner will be announced on Thursday, October 13.