Unlikely Connections

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Do you ever look back on seasons of your life and people you met there thinking "there is no way we would have ever met, gotten to know each other or have ever been friends if it hadn't been for ________"

As an Introvert (not that I am making excuses, it is just a fact of my personality) it is often hard for us to make connections with other people, to get to know them, grow together in a common goal, and have healthy comradery. This is often the case because we don't willingly put ourselves in public or group situations that warrant us opening up, getting to know strangers with similar interests, and grow together with like minded people who all encourage each other. 

Throughout my life I have never stretched myself to be in settings with lots of people, mainly because I don't like large groups or new things....unless there is no getting out of something and it is required. When that is that case I might enter into the situation apprehensive, slightly negative minded, and might not think I will grow or come out better for it. However, sometimes life (and God) has a way of surprising me and showing me that there is more to who I am and more to people when I let myself get to know them and open up about something I am passionate about. 

As many of you know, I majored in Family and Consumer Science, but my minor was in Education (I am starting my first year of teaching in the fall). However, if you are not familiar with how many University Education programs work, you often go through a semester or more of education classes before starting your student teaching (at least that was the case at my University). 

Every university is different when it comes to how they present classes, but when I took all of my main education classes it was during the spring of 2017 and it was called Methods. During this time I took I think 3-4 different education classes taught by two teachers (one a doctor and one a professor) in a classroom at a high school (where we completed field experience) along with about 15 other education students. We met two days a week for 4 hours. That might not seem like much, but after you get to the High school at 7:00 am two days a week and have field experience until about 12:30 and then meet with 15 other people for 4 hours it's hard not to get close with those people. 

Going into Methods I had no clue what to expect, and I most certainly didn't know what to expect in regards to a classroom of strangers who wanted to become teachers. However, throughout those spring months we didn't just learn how to be amazing teachers, but we talked about what we saw in classrooms, our highs, our lows, our challenges, our dreams, taught lessons to our peers, worked on group projects, went to seminars, ate lunch together, you name it! 

I remember our two teachers (the Doctor and Professor, both of whom impacted me greatly themselves, as talked about here) telling us that the people around us (taking methods) were the only people who would know exactly what we were going through, and would go through in the future, therefore making them very important in our life. I can't tell you how that spring changed my perspective of Interpersonal Relationships and being open to getting to know new people. We shared many jokes and funny stories in that class, we celebrated with each other when great things happened, we carpooled places, met up for lunch, it was crazy (in my mind) but amazing! Getting to know the group of people in that classroom two days a week helped me grow as a person! I learned to be confident in myself around people, to start conversations, encourage others, get to know what made each of them unique, and look to them for advice, critique, and encouragement.

The crazy thing is that I think for the first time in my life I was in a situation where my "peers" noticed me.......I know that sounds weird, but so often I have a tendency to fade into the background, wishing to be invisible rather than seen (sometimes it is my doing and sometimes it is others), but in that class I was seen and people openly chose to get to know me as a person and future teacher. The funniest thing is that because the class was focused on something I was passionate about I was actually SUPER talkative and interactive (shocker, I know)!! One day one of the guys even looked at me and asked "are you doing okay today, because you seem quiet, not like the typical Madison." I had to laugh at his statement because most of the people in the class didn't know me as a quiet introvert, and I looked at him with a laugh and said "This is actually the typical Madison, you just don't see it in class often.

Those group of fellow Education students and future teachers became so special to me during that spring semester, which was my next to last semester of college. The cool thing is that after our semester and class ended, because of the connections we made most of us stayed in contact. Many of us follow each other on Facebook, keeping up to date with each others lives, and even the next semester when we had to go to meetings and seminars for student teaching we would always make a point to grab lunch together (it was like a big family reunion). I never in my life thought I would meet a large group of people I could be comfortable with, get to know on a mature level, converse with, laugh at, eat lunch with, and know that they understood what you were going through because you had all been there and knew what the other experienced. We may not all be Best Friends, but that spring taught me that people have the capacity for being more than you think. We all have the ability to connect with strangers we never thought we had anything in common with and create bonds that could last forever. 

So I challenge you, whether it is willingly putting yourself into a situation that is new and maybe uncomfortable or entering into something that you don't have a choice about, going into it with an open mind because you never know how much you could grow, how much you could learn from others or the relationships and unlikely connections that could be created there. 

- Madison

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