As my fingers awkwardly stumble across the foreign, yet somewhat familiar crevices of the keys they once knew, I can’t help but feel like they have lost their former sense of dexterity. As if I were a reincarnated mummy slowly unraveling the bandages from his hands and stretching his fingers freely after centuries of being bound. How do I start? What do I NEED to say?
Hold on . . .
(Exiting his sarcophagus, Gameboydrew inserts his AirPods and presses play. Lana Del Rey’s heavenly voice soon floods his ear canals. Feeling the music . . . his fingers jolt, sway, and animate with life.)
Inhale . . . exhale . . . a mantra I have internalized more-and-more lately. Life seems to be moving faster than it ever has. Luckily, I’ve always been somewhat of a thrill seeker, an explorer, an evel-knievel-car-hopping type. I can deal with speed, but I have a harder time accepting a change of direction. I guess it’s always easier to say I am X than to actively embrace these “edgy” characteristics in all aspects of my life. Regardless, lately, the world I thought I knew seems different . . . in the most beautiful and fulfilling way, yet! Possibilities seem infinite. Once unattainable goals are but a grip away. Friends are abundant and continue to come in droves. Life makes perfect sense right now. I am happy and more than content, but I can’t help but question this uncanny reality. Why is all of this suddenly happening?
If you’ve never ever seen the Matrix, the story centers on protagonist, Thomas Anderson. Mr. Anderson is living a life unfulfilled, constantly longing for more in a cold, empty world. He eventually meets Morpheus, a father-like figure who helps Mr. Anderson wake from the pseudo reality he calls life. The only problem is that Mr. Anderson is scared to embrace his potential. More than that, he fears letting down the people who believe in him. After battling his inner conscience, he eventually accepts who is in full glory. And when he does, the impossible happens - he restores symmetry to a previously unbalanced world.
To answer the question I posed earlier, the difference is that I am no longer watching the pages of my life turn in succession. I am owning my story; I am in control of the ink! These past few months have pushed me to grow. As a matter of fact, my body still aches with growing pains. I’ve had to leave the picturesque green fields of home in exchange for concrete jungles in order to reach my full potential - like Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire. Have I been scared? Hell yeah, especially when my nine-seater plane hit turbulence on my trip back from L.A. last weekend. Has every opportunity been worth it? You bet! Is my journey over? Not even close.
I’m finally embracing me for who I am. I’m not transforming into someone new. Rather, I’m learning how to be the person I was always meant to be. I am Andrew Arevalo, Gameboydrew, the 2019 CUE Emerging Teacher of the Year. I may hail from a small town that most will never know, but rest assured, my dreams will shatter the highest of ceilings.
When we embrace who we are, we set ourselves free. We set the world ablaze, and we see it for what it truly is - a place brimming with hope and opportunity - even if it is ugly at times. Thus, embrace the crazy, the different, the you! Sing your song. Dance your dance. Live. In a few days, I’ll be boarding a plane and flying across the nation to present on my biggest stage yet. I never imagined myself doing this, but this is me owning my story . . . and you should, too!