Lately i’ve been feeling this weird sense of nostalgia, but not for my own life. I know that doesn’t make sense, so i’m going to try and explain it; it may not even be nostalgia but something entirely different.
Let me begin with this, i’m a teacher at a secondary school- so I deal with students from 11-18 years of age. I watch them grow up into curious human-beings, some leave me adults or on the cusp of adulthood, and I watch them leave my guidance to wander the big, wide world. I have always become very attached and protective over my students- even the not so ‘kind’ ones- because i’ve always wanted the best for them, even though I’ll lose sleep over them or worry about where they’re going to go in life. I’ve cried when students bought me or made me gifts. Last year I lost all composure in front of my year 11 class because they all got me gifts because I wasn’t allowed to teach them in year 12, and I cried like a wailing idiot because they had no idea how much I was going to miss them, or how much it meant to me that I had watched them all grow into these beautiful young humans. They’ll never know how proud of them I was that they were all sitting in front of me with warm faces and smiling eyes; they didn’t know how much of their struggle I had seen, their internal woe and misery, their self-hatred at their ‘intelligence’ (which I had to tell them existed), or the dramas in their lives that I had watched cripple them at times. They didn’t know how much I had worked around their lives and capabilities to push them and hope to see them mature. I know my job is to educate- to make them literate and thinkers, and by god I do it, but my biggest goal as a teacher is to make humble, caring and intelligent humans who can be warm and considerate. I want them to be able to go out into the real world and be confident in their own thoughts, whilst being kind. By the end of that year, I knew with that class, I had succeeded.
So, let me try and explain this weird feeling once more. Lately I find myself watching my students, or bumping into past students who are years older now than when I had them in year 7. I get this really sad feeling, not because i’m not proud or happy for them, but because I’m sad that one day they’ll be adults and in the big wide world, and I think about how I hope they make it, and how I hope they succeed. They’ll be standing in front of me talking about their sport, or school, or the weekend and I just keep thinking about how small they were in year 7, and how i’m ageing- inevitably- and how one day these kids will be long gone, as will I… I get this overwhelming sense of sadness and loss. Like i’m purposeless and that everyone around me is in a state of transit. I see my year 12 students, who are nearly adults- if not already, and I feel so humbled by them but also a sense of loss because I know they’ll be gone soon. They constantly remind me of the progress I made with them, and how much I miss them all, but i’m scared for them all- and maybe that’s my own worries and struggle with my own life- but I just hope they have the best life. I hope I can run into them in the future and know they’re happy and healthy.
I don’t know if I explained the feeling well but this is my state currently. This really weird nostalgic feeling, but not for my own life, kind of like I want to go back before these kids became adults or I just want to feel happy they’re growing? Which I am… So i’m really confused by this feeling. All I know is that i’m immensely proud of all my students, and I just want the best for them but when I watch these students stand tall in their senior uniform and I taught them when they were tiny 11 year olds my world crumbles. Maybe I’m having a life crisis because I’m realising my own morality, and my own age is slowly creeping higher.