“Rachelli, I’d like to speak to you after class.” Cue quickening heartbeat, rapid breathing and sweaty palms. What does she want? What did I do?
“Am I in trouble?”
“Let’s see how class plays out,” she says with a smile. My mind races as I try to guess what she could possibly want to talk to me about. This teacher and I have always gotten along well. Hurrying to the bathroom, I think about our recent interactions. Maybe she wants to talk to me about the journal entries I handed in… what did I write in those ones about anyhow… Was there plagiarism? Did I say something radical and worrisome?
Class goes on and I anxiously wonder what she wants from me… The bell rings. A bunch of girls approach her desk. I wasn’t the only one she wanted to talk to. We go out into the hall and she speaks to us one by one. Finally, it’s my turn.
“Rachelli… I just want to tell you, I see such a difference in you from the beginning of the year. You are so much more caring, and mature and…” She goes on like this and I nod and grin like she just gave me the best present ever, all the while thinking… really? Did I really change so much? I feel like the same me… the same me, stuck in the same rut, going through the same motions… am I different?
She finishes and I say thank you and walk away.
I think back to the past year… I know I have changed… or at least, am not the same person. I was more bitter at the beginning of the year… It’s hard to forget all the tears, the anger and frustration I was going through… how I felt used, abused and unappreciated, disregarded and unimportant. How many people told me that I had been a horrible person, snapping at will and being generally obnoxious to be around?
Yet… how many times did I hear, later in the year, that teachers noticed how I had changed… that I was being spoken about in glowing terms at Shabbos meals between teachers…?
Maybe I have changed…. Maybe I am different…