“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates
I remember it like it was yesterday. I carry it with me wherever I go. It was the single most important challenge directly put to me. Dr. Allan Ten Eyck, my sophomore professor at Grand Valley State University challenged me. He was a professor of education and I was his student. I enjoyed his class and especially respected his passion and love of teaching. He recognized talent in me and treated me as an important member of the university.
He asked to meet with me after class one day. He sat me down in his office and looked me in the eye and said, “You’ve pretty much gotten by on charm most of your life haven’t you?” I looked back and answered, “Yes,” and actually felt relieved. Still looking at me he said, “That’s OK, you just better make sure you have something to back it up.” WOW, a superslam followed by validation. I think you call that a backhanded compliment.
It was like getting hit with a brick. I was found out. No one ever challenged me like that. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I knew that I used the charm to get by, but I didn’t know that anyone else knew. Well it turned my world upside down. I felt phony and insincere. At the same time, he still made me feel that I had “something to give.”
It also made me examine who I was and where I was going. Another important factor in my life at the time was my new faith. I had recently become a Christian and knew that God wanted integrity in my life. So these coinciding events created an evaluation of my life. I found myself checking myself on everything that I did. Now this can also make you paranoid and neurotic if you don’t have people to help you examine and re-examine your life.
That wasn’t the last challenge from him. I was constantly seeking his wisdom. Even though he called me out then, and continued to, he also kept encouraging me and allowing me to grow. He made becoming a teacher a right of passage and a privilege, not a job or a career. I was a C-D student at the time. From that day, I became not just an A-B student but someone who was driven to “learn” how to teach and run a classroom in the best way.
It is only when you take your God-given gifts and add passionate expertise that you come alive. I am so glad that I learned this at a time that allowed me to begin my life’s journey that I am on to this date. The best part is that it still feels like I have just begun.
Thank you Dr. Ten Eyck