Integrity

“I hate incompetence. I think it’s probably the only thing I do hate. But it didn’t make me want to rule people. Nor to teach them anything. It made me want to do my own work in my own way and let myself be torn to pieces if necessary.”

– Howard Roark; The Fountainhead; Ayn Rand

I love my job. I couldn’t imagine not doing what I do for a living. I want to expand on my knowledge and continue to try to excel at what I do. Eventually, I want to be an educational psychologist. I have wanted to study psychology since I was fourteen years old. I have since found that my passion lies in how people think and how they learn. I am fascinated by the subject; I am so truly passionate about it that the idea that others in my field are not is unthinkable to me. But while it is unthinkable, it is an unfortunate reality that I deal with all of the time.

When one of my coworkers encouraged me to begin teaching others the knowledge that I have, at first I was hesitant. I know the reality that is out there: that there aren’t very many early childhood teachers out there that are as passionate as I am about my work. The last thing that I wanted was to open myself up to ridicule or other disrespect toward my chosen field. But I also found the idea of teaching others intriguing; I felt that if I could teach them what I know, then maybe they would become as passionate about it as I am.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out how it really works. Since a certain number of training hours are required per year for all early childhood educators, people came regardless of whether or not they actually wanted to be there. Most were participatory and respectful. At the last training I did, however, it was different. I saw what I had feared: blatant disrespect and mockery of what I love so much. It put me in a position of defense, when I find that I don’t have to defend myself in my work on a normal basis. It cheapened everything, and I knew that I had made a mistake.

It has taken me one long month to figure out what my mistake was. I knew the reality of the situation: that there are very few early childhood educators out there that are as passionate about what they do as I am. And yet, I thought that I could change that reality by offering my passion on a platter for anyone to partake of. I forgot that, in the process of learning anything, the passion must come first. People, just like children, must be intrinsically motivated to learn the subject that you are trying to teach them. When they are being forced to attend trainings simply to keep their job, there is no motivation to actually learn anything. And this is the part of the equation that I forgot about.

I offered my passion as a sacrifice to those who would take advantage of it, and they did. The effect has been devastating on my professional morale, as I have struggled to regain some sense of that passion. I know it is there; I didn’t sacrifice it all. But I realize that I lost some of my personal integrity through the process, and I now have to work hard to regain it. Realizing that you cast your precious pearls to those who do not appreciate their worth is a hard realization, because you have to admit to yourself that you sacrificed the most important thing to you to those who did not deserve it. But being able to admit that to yourself is the first step, and ensuring that it never happens again will help to strengthen and regain that sense of integrity that was lost.

I, for one, will ensure that it will never happen again. I have a path that I want to take and a dream that I want to realize. I will do everything that I can to make sure that I reach that dream, and I will not let the swine around me deter me from that dream ever again.

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