Walking Away Can’t Be Right

Can I take this time to vent for a little bit?

I work for an organization that brings teachers into the city.  They make a commitment to us, the school, and their students to teach for a couple of years, and although they appear excited to take on this new experience, I’ve been watching some of them quit their position or simply “change their mind” this year.

It’s almost as if they don’t want to own up to their choice!  They refuse to look in the eyes of the ones who are holding them accountable to the commitment they made.  Why? Is it for fear of a mirror being held up in their face that reveals that which they’re trying so desperately to deny?

I gotta be honest here: I’m losing respect for these individuals every time another one does this.  While I want to be merciful in believing that they’re secretly saying, “I’m sorry. I’m not cut out for this after all, and I feel guilty about it,” I want to be critical of them. I AM critical of them.  It’s just plain cowardly and inconsiderate on their part.

Disclaimer: As an educator, I am keenly aware of ALL the disadvantages that drive teachers to leave their position.  I, too, went through it.  But this ain’t that.  This is something more. It’s something inherent.

Those that know me know that I believe in a lesson to learn of every single experience, whether good or bad.  This one for me is no different.  In my attempts to pin this solely on these teachers in this company, I am recognizing that it is more massive than just a teacher issue.

Look at the world around us: How often do we see people avoiding their commitments and responsibilities? How often do people back out without giving their most honest explanation to all those who are impacted by this choice? It’s almost as if it’s become normal to us – that if we change our minds, we can simply turn our heads in the other direction to avoid feeling emotion and everyone else will just do the same.

This ANGERS me! It makes me want to give them a piece of my mind sit and be more angry. (Yes, that’s what I usually do when I’m angry: Just let it boil on the inside until I’ve moved on to something else. Not something I’d advise!)

If I were to tell them how I feel, I would want them to know that turning away silently doesn’t make the situation go away.  It only leaves an open wound for someone else to patch up. Not.Cool. 

It’s a slap in the face for those (like myself) who are inclined to clean up messes because it’s in their character to do so. It’s like throwing a McDonald’s bag on the ground after eating and saying, “Someone else will get it.  I don’t know who, but I can walk away knowing it will be taken care of.”

This can’t be right, people.  It just can’t!

As I stew over this right now, I am convicted in saying that we cannot continue to allow people to be comfortable in their avoidance.  If we do, we are further enabling rather than holding them accountable.

(Sigh.) Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I will walk away and focus my attention on something else. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing done.

Shamefully, this is so my routine.  I complain, then I sit. You and I both know that this isn’t progress.  This isn’t change.  But here’s what is:

The next time that someone, whether a teacher or a someone in my life, chooses to avoid owning up to what they’re giving up, I will speak up.  I will speak up for those who don’t have the words to explain how this impacts them.  I will give a voice to the cycle of damage that they’ve become a catalyst for – because there is ALWAYS damage that affects a deeper area that isn’t seen by the natural eye.

The next time someone leaves a mess for me to clean up, I will still do it, because that’s my inherent trait; however, I will also be sure to pick up a mirror and show them their reflection.

The recipient of my opinion may create an even bigger wall between their desires and the reality of the situation, but I will speak up anyway, because there is going to come a time when they can no longer turn their head.  It may not be now, it may not be with me, but it will come. All I want is for people to own up, and even if they still walk away, they will walk away having faced what they are leaving behind.

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Elana Cole is a writer, educator, and professional coach who is passionate about helping others in their personal journeys towards a more beautiful life. She is the author of "The Midnight Experience" and creator of Empowered Narrative, a blog about transforming the way you live and love.

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