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Barbara Burgett: Don’t let self-doubt quash your dreams

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher. I would get all of my dolls and stuffed animals and arrange them in a classroom setting. I did not own a chalkboard so I had to pretend to have one. I used a stick as my pointer. I created tests and handed them out to my “students.”

When I entered seventh grade, I had an English teacher I admired. His name was Mr. Robinson. I thank him for introducing me to Robert Frost. When he assigned reading the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” I became enthralled with poetry.

The next day in class he asked all of us what we thought the poem meant. I raised my hand, which was a big feat for me because I was so shy, and told him the poem was about different career paths people take in life. He was impressed that I had the correct answer.

After having Mr. Robinson for seventh and eighth grade, I knew I wanted to be an English teacher like him. Unfortunately, self-doubt came into my mind and decided to stay. I never did pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.

When I left high school, I dabbled in college but I pursued careers in business. I worked for some wonderful people, but I was always restless. I wanted to do more, but I did not quite know what.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I loved being at home with my daughter and eventually I had three more children. When my youngest was 1, I decided to go back to college to finish my degree. I studied English literature. I wanted a degree to prove I could do it and I wanted my children to see me graduate from college.

As I worked on my bachelor’s degree, my dream of becoming a teacher clawed its way out of the hole that I buried it in and resurfaced. I started to think I wanted to pursue my master’s degree so I could become a teacher.

I recently finished my first year pursuing my master’s degree. It is very hard. I sometimes question my sanity with taking care of four children, the house and all of my volunteer activities.

I also had to take three certification tests to be a certified English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school students. I am not a good test taker. I panic when I have to take tests, so the thought of taking them terrified me. I believe I put more pressure on myself because I thought if I failed these certification tests that it was a sign that I was never meant to be a teacher. The mean self-doubt reared its ugly head again.

I took the certification exams and passed all of them. After I read my results, I kept thinking, “I am finally a New York State-certified English teacher.”

It is such a great feeling knowing that I have accomplished something I dreamed about so long ago.

I must quote some lines from Frost’s poem that have stayed with me all these years:

“Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.”

I have been given a wonderful opportunity to take the road I did not take and travel it now. I am very grateful for my chance to live my dream of long ago. I hope that I may inspire students the way Mr. Robinson inspired me.