At Ridgeview, I found my place at school, in a circle of friends, and within my family. The time and energy I spent on different aspects of my life was imperfectly balanced, as some weeks I spent extra time on homework and some weekends I spent 2 nights at friends’ houses. I received strong academic markings, I painted and I baked cakes, I attended school social events, and I spent time with my family.
Even though most of my time was spent at Ridgeview or with Ridgeview people, I was more than a student. I was a sister, a daughter, and a friend. It does a great deal of good to also realize that teachers and staff are also more than just that: they are siblings, children, friends, spouses, parents, and much more.
Perhaps this seems trivial or obvious, but it is nonetheless vital. It is easy to view occupations as identities; honestly, most of our childhood is spent equivocating the two. The word “fireman” contains not only overt vocational information, but also implied relational information. This is perhaps because a job often accompanies certain characteristics. However, the danger of assuming people exist within a title is that many of our encounters exist within specific parameters, such as: between 7 and 3, 5 days a week.
Indeed, adding characteristics also complicates things. Examine how we think of the Founding Fathers: as the first president of the United States, George Washington is easily admired. However, if you begin to add information about who he was as a person, he becomes more humanized. Our admiration and thus our relationship to him becomes complicated.
There is perhaps some level of knowledge about others that becomes uncomfortable, unnecessary, and even inappropriate. However, the understanding that people exist outside of our own relationship with them fights solipsism (the illusion that our own existence precludes all those we come into contact with) and selfishness (the delusion that our own needs supersede those of all other people).
With holidays upon us, I entreat Ridgeview community members to remember not just who they are in relation to others, but who others might also be. Students are not merely students and teachers are not simply teachers. We have other duties that define us and make us who we are. We are brothers, sisters, friends and so much more.