This has been a big month. I really wanted my next post to be about some big job offer or exciting thing. I don't have much to report, but hopefully I will soon. As I reflect on this year so far, I realize how much the grown-up side of me has come out of her shell. I spent the semester student teaching in a freshman English classroom at a local high school, and I had a lot of fun. I was able to put all the theory and lesson ideas I've been saving up over the years to work. Most of all, I was able to see who I am in a professional setting.

Going in to student teaching, I was fearful that I would have to be inauthentic. I decided not to begin the experience by saying, "hi, my name is Simone and I'm an addict and suicide attempt survivor." I was afraid that by not revealing the biggest parts of who I am, I would sacrifice being an authentic person. However, something very different happened.

Over the course of the semester, I got to know my colleagues and leaders very well. And they got to know me. I made friends. I made mentors. They know that I am silly and caring and hard working. They know that I have had life experiences that have shaped who I am (because we all have). They know I have a big family. Who I am is shaped by my history. For people to get to know me, they do not need to know my history.

I have always felt (and still do, to an extent), that people need to have an explanation of who I am. Like I need to explain to people why I am the way I am or else they wont get me.

I did not trade myself in for acceptance AND I did not wear my past on my sleeve. AND people liked me. I did not want to disrespect my experiences by pretending they did not happen. And I didn't have to. I didn't have to lie, I didn't have to make stuff up, I just didn't share some things.

I let my past shine by allowing myself to be who I am. My past has made me considerate, it has made me patient, it has helped me be an empathetic person.

When I was invited out with some fellow teachers, I went. When they asked me if I wanted a drink, I said "no thanks, I don't drink," and when they asked why, I said, "I don't like the way it makes me feel," and they said okay, and I got a soda, and we had a wonderful evening. I didn't have to lie, I didn't have to explain myself, I didn't have to worry if I had said too much.

I really like working hard, and the hard work continues to pay off. I really like who I am in a professional setting, and I like being seen as a professional.