Lately I’ve been experiencing this phenomenon of befriending non-parental adults from my childhood. Aunts, uncles, teachers, etc. What has been quite astonishing to me is finding them to have similar beliefs, habits, and passions. It’s not like I knew these people’s politics as a child, but I believe I had a strong sense of who was, simply put, a good person. So I find it interesting that these people I admired and respected so much have so much in common with the person I turned out to be. With the technology available to us now I’m able to get to know these people from another perspective, similar to my evolving relationship with my father just through different means. That somewhat simple relationship of child + adult that is not parent becomes so complex and fulfilling as you age. Facebook is amazing in that way, it allows me to not only connect with these people again but in a format where they feel free to express themselves, their beliefs, their politics. It’s wonderful, finding that these people that left such giant impressions on me as a kid, turn out to actually be good, kind, even brilliant people.
You can’t help but be in awe of some adults as a child. They are just so much bigger than you can imagine. So much older, so much wiser. But then, all of a sudden, you’re the same physical size and they seem to have shrunk. Like going back to your elementary school and seeing how tiny the lockers seem. It’s off-putting, all of a sudden it hits you: shit. I’m an adult. And these people haven’t shrunk, I’m just finally full size! (Or, in my case, as full size as I’m ever going to get, I’m over five feet but only just). It’s overwhelming, even terrifying, that I’m just expected to communicate with them like I’m a normal adult human. They still seem so wise, so together. And so I’m still in awe that I get to talk to them as a sort of peer. And then, to make things even cooler, I find that we have a lot in common, we share so many core beliefs, and it’s just incredible. It’s strangely validating, to like and be liked by someone you have looked up to for so long. These new friendships that have recently sprung up in my life are some of the most rewarding, in that I genuinely enjoy every moment spent with them, whether in person or long distance.
I know that I have been lucky, throughout my life I have had outstanding teachers. I also realize that I may not have been the most normal of children. I generally felt like I was better friends with my teachers than my classmates, I didn’t necessarily always fit in with the other kids. I was always a bookworm and I didn’t like to feel like an outsider so rather than run around the playground at lunch or after school I was usually holed up in a classroom, reading and hanging out with whichever teacher would have me. This meant I spent more one on one time with these adults, and I found comfort in being able to talk to someone who wasn’t, basically, insane. Children my age just weren’t my thing, in elementary school they were lunatics, in middle and high school they became malicious psychopaths. Children can be cruel and violent, they simply don’t understand empathy and so spending time with adults who did made a big impression on me. That may be part of why I so respected and looked up to these people, they were kind, caring, and actually listened to me. Besides that they taught me, they introduced so many amazing things to me, how could I not look up to them? Even into my late twenties, when I decided to go back to school for animation, I found teachers that embodied that same spirit, people who were excited about what they were teaching and in turn made me excited to learn. It’s an incredible feat that some people are able to spread that passion for a subject to so many others. I may be more appreciative of that partially because my family is mainly teachers and professors of some kind of another, but I believe it is mostly because I was lucky enough to have absolutely outstanding teachers myself. Teachers, librarians, choreographers, aunts, uncles…I was surrounded by people who really cared about what they did and about me. And in this day and age I am able to do what earlier generations couldn’t, at this time in my life of realization and understanding, I am able to reconnect with them. I am able to find that we share favorite books, or a similar sense of humor, or, even better, a similar passion for humanity. And best of all, I am able to thank them. As children we take so much for granted and, especially today, with the broken system we have, it’s more important than ever to show our appreciation for the teachers that have made such an impression on us. So to all the teachers of all kinds, to all the adults that have helped me get this far, I say thank you. You had much more effect than you may have realized and because of all of you amazing people I am now a happy, fulfilled adult. That is definitely something worth showing appreciation for.