I often look at myself in the mirror and think, “Who is that adult staring back at me?” But the truth is, I’m still really young. I’m 25. I still struggle with acne. I can’t afford to live on my own. I love making Kraft Mac ’N Cheese for dinner. About half the things I read are young-adult novels.
There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet lately about being my age. People saying things you should do instead of getting married at 23. Responses to that which argue for making more of a difference. Forbes just announced its 30 under 30 in different categories, which brought my PLN into all sorts of discussion. I just finished reading Sheryl Sandburg’s Lean In. So as I lay in my twin bed (just another example of my juvenile tendencies), I can’t help but reflect.
This is what I know about being twenty-five. Twenty-five is a weird age.
In my Midwest upbringing, most people have been married for a couple years and are popping out their first kid at twenty-five. They’re happy.
In California, many twenty-five-year-olds still live at home. Let’s be honest: it’s hard to afford to live on your own. Many don’t know what they want to do with their lives. They’re looking for opportunity, but we have this stigma (which I own as being partially true) for feeling entitled. We don’t want entry level; we want recognition and power.
And then there’s this weird start-up culture. Twenty-five-year-olds are starting companies, and they’re making it! People are investing. They’re household names. They’re making a difference. As I look at the Forbes 30 Under 30 for Education, I'm surprised by how many of these tools I use and how many of these tools I've never heard of. I'm sure they've all done great things, but I'm especially grateful for the people at Class Dojo, who have helped me use positive behavior reinforcement in my classroom. And I'm thankful for the people at Quizlet, who have revolutionized how my students study and given students who have struggled in the past success in memorization. But really, I just think it's cool that younger people are doing things. We're not waiting to climb the corporate ladder anymore. We're jumping right in. So much good can happen for the world as people start making a difference at a young age.
In my own life, I never expected to be here at twenty-five. I expected the Midwest mentality of marriage and babies. And although I won't say that's never a possibility down the line, I'm so thankful it's not me right now. I'm making a difference in kids' lives every day. They're my kids. I love them. I want what's best for them. I want to see them become difference makers in the world. And I want to see them make that difference now. Today. Tomorrow. When they're twenty-five. Their whole lives.
I had no idea that teaching could be like this. I had no idea the things my students would teach me. I had no idea the great community of friends and co-laborers I could find on Twitter. I had no idea the opportunities that would exist for me at twenty-five. And I can only dream of what can be in the future. What will be in the future.
So although sometimes I think my lack of experience and young age will cause others to think less of me, I'm not letting that stop me. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Timothy 4:12, which says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in faith, in love, and in purity." In addition to faith implications for me, this verse has professional practicality. I'm young, but I'm not going to let that stop me. I'm going to speak up about what I believe is the power of education. I'm going to conduct myself in the best ways that I can, teaching to the best of my ability every day (and night). I'm going to have deep faith in my students and the things they do. I'm going to love deeply my colleagues, my students, my "people." And I'm going to do it with purity. Not because Forbes recognizes me or because I'm getting a lot of followers on Twitter (although, I will admit, both of those things would be pretty cool). But because my kids deserve it.
So yeah, I'm twenty-five. I know just enough to be dangerous. And I'm not waiting to make a difference.