I tend to find lessons through music and songs often. Maybe it’s because my mom was a church organist and piano teacher, so I grew up with music all around me. It’s probably also because I had two older brothers and “their” music was what I still love to listen to…Don Williams, Waylon Jennings, The Eagles, Boston, Kansas, The J. Geils Band.
When I look back at 2022, I think of The Kinks “You Really Got Me.” The lyrics are “Girl, you really got me goin’/You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’/Yeah, you really got me now/You got me so I can’t sleep at night.”
Just substitute “2022” for “Girl” and it fits my reflection on the year pretty well. I never could have imagined the year would end up like it did. I would be less than honest if I didn’t mention the word “betrayal” seemed to run through my mind often. There were people I respected, admired, and trusted that demonstrated the trust was clearly misplaced. There were significant changes in my job that I didn’t foresee. My support system and surrounding cast looks much different this year. People I was comfortable working alongside have changed how they meet needs, some still in my school and district and some outside our district or even career field. Mentors and heroes have moved on for additional opportunities or well-deserved retirement. This isn’t a “woe is me” look backward, but context is important. What else did I not see coming?
I have new opportunities to work with students and staff that I didn’t anticipate. I have new teammates to serve alongside. Maybe most surprisingly, I was concerned that colleagues who I used to meet with on a regular basis would be removed from my life. Now, instead of visiting because of a standing meeting on my calendar or proximity of workspace, my investment in many of those relationships is more intentional and based on factors other than assigned duties. The connection is different, but different doesn’t have to mean bad. I’ve seen others rise to new levels of learning and leadership as they fill new roles or add to their learning by pursuing additional professional degrees.
This leads me to what I expect to happen in 2023 and the future beyond next year. I expect that many of these courageous educators will develop new skills and knowledge that will take them to greater levels of service, perhaps even beyond the walls of my school. That is exciting to me. Ripples of excellence will move across different shores.
I will also experience some achievements in 2023 that I am enthusiastic about. I’ll add a new member to our family with my son’s wedding to a young lady that increasingly becomes more important to me each day. I’ll share those moments with family that are far from perfect but who have made us who we are and give us opportunities to practice unconditional love. I’ll finish my doctoral studies this year and will have chances to collaborate and share with colleagues on a wider scale through presenting and writing.
So what are you expecting from this new year? You may have felt moments of betrayal or setbacks last year as well. You may have had people leave your life or let you down. I don’t discount any of that hurt or pain or try to suggest that we should all just forget what’s happened and “resolve” to make this a perfect year. This year, we will have people smile and possibly praise us to our face while working or cheering against us elsewhere. We will have people criticize us for not making more progress. We will have people criticize and resent us for the progress we’re working towards. Bottom line, we will have critics and haters regardless of what we do or don’t do. We will have doors open, and we will have doors closed, sometimes rather forcefully.
Even though there are things I expect to happen this year, I know there will be things I don’t expect. What I’m most excited about is that I have the power to choose my response to all those events and moments. I can be part of the problem or part of the solution. There is a quote from Edward Everett Hale I admire. He said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” This is how I’m entering 2023.
I’m not vain enough to think I can make it through the year with no surprises like The Who sang in “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” “I’ll tip my hat to the new Constitution/Take a bow for the new revolution/Smile and grin at the change all around/Pick up my guitar and play/Just like yesterday/Then I’ll get on my knees and pray/We don’t get fooled again.”
I don’t play the guitar well, so that may not be what I pick up, and I definitely will get on my knees and pray this year as I look for more change, unexpected turns, and more connections in 2023. It won’t be like The Who. I know I will be fooled. The unexpected and unanticipated will manifest itself like it did in 2022, but I’m excited for that. 2023, let’s go!
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