Truth be told, I have not seen the meme that he referred to. But the idea of that meme even existing has been nagging at me. I thought about it and realized how many big things I have actually accomplished in the last 10 years. Just considering my professional accomplishments, I still have quite a list:
1) I earned my Master's degree in TESOL in 2010
2) I earned National Board Certification in 2013
3) I became part of a Teacher Leadership cohort in 2015
4) I mentored 7 pre-service teachers between 2013 and 2019
5) I earned my Doctorate of Education in 2018
6) I became a certified Restorative Practices Facilitator in 2018
7) I served as a Teacher Leader with Leading Educators in 2018-2019
8) I took a month of my summer in 2019 to coach and work with teachers in Uganda
This doesn't even consider the going above and beyond way I approach my professional life anyway. Not to mention this is only my professional list, it has not a single inkling of anything I have accomplished in my personal life.
I earned letters behind my name in the last ten years (for professional purposes, I do add NBCT, Ed.D. behind my signature in emails and such). I gave back to the profession by supporting incoming teachers. I defend our profession and try to help people see that yes, it is a hard job, but it is the most worthwhile job there is.
I have tried in the last week to figure out WHY the idea of that meme bothered me so much. Again, I'm grateful for the post that brought it to my attention because it allowed me to reflect and grow. I finally realized why it was bothering me. You don't have to earn letters behind your name or have huge professional accomplishments to not feel like you've wasted the last ten years.
I will use my husband as an example (which I'm sure he will love *wink*). He has not earned any degrees. He has not gotten a promotion. He has not taken on leadership roles in his job. So this would mean he has totally wasted the last ten years by the logic of the meme, right? But as I thought on it, I realized this is exactly why the very idea of that meme got under my skin. No, perhaps the Mister hasn't done anything to earn the accolades of other people or make them go WOW, YOU'RE AWESOME. But I'd like to tell you what he HAS accomplished:
1) He has helped raise three incredibly generous, beautiful daughters
2) He has supported the four women in his life as they have pursued their goals
3) He has had a stable and steady income (i.e. not bouncing from job to job) that has allowed me to pursue all of my lofty goals [refer to my crazy list above for said goals]
4) He has been a stable and rock solid person when I have struggled with my mental health coping with my childhood abuse in the last ten years
5) He has been clearheaded and had a vision for our future that I have not always been able to see in terms of saving money and making sure we won't starve or lose the lifestyle we enjoy
6) He has been a fierce protector for me in terms of making sure people from my past who are toxic are not allowed to be around me and/or upset me
By this list, the Mister hasn't really accomplished ANYTHING by the definition set forth by that meme. But I could argue his list is much more important than mine. Sure, I've dedicated my life to supporting other people's kids and giving them an education. That is worthwhile for sure, but I think it is also worthwhile and not a waste of a decade to be a supporter, an advocate, a protector and a champion.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety on and off since February 2010. It's really a manifestation of abuse I dealt with as a child that I didn't acknowledge. I am immensely grateful that my Mister is the stable person he is, because there are times that I am not stable. It doesn't mean I will hurt someone or myself, but my head is not always rational. There have been times I have realized I really have Rational Raye and Irrational Raye. Usually they get along and Rational Raye is in control, but sometimes that isn't true. And the Mister is always there to hold my hand and guide me when Irrational Raye takes over. That is huge. That is an accomplishment that perhaps won't win any accolades or awards, but certainly shows me that the Mister has not wasted these last ten years.