I can guess what just happened: you're having a day (either far better or much worse than usual) and you were struck by the sudden thought, "What was I doing this time last year?" (Or the year before, or two years before... it might take you awhile to forget and remember this letter. It's okay. Things return when the time is right.) So you're looking up today's date in the archives.
I know what you're really wondering, too, the thing you always wonder when you read old posts, the thing that's sometimes hard to discern behind chatty descriptions of workdays and weather and latest projects. Were you happy? And on this point, I want to be clear: you are happy. Really happy. In fact, sometimes you're so completely happy that you wonder if you were really ever happy before, the way that couples who have been married for fifty years look back and wonder if they were truly in love when they first met. You're busy and sometimes overloaded and you have little time to spare, and your heart is full, and you are tremendously, totally happy.
You've also stepped outside of your comfort zone in a big way. Most of the time, you're operating right on the edge of where you feel comfortable, teetering along, always in danger of falling over. Just as you start to get your footing, you get a glimpse of how much more there is to learn and you're right back on the edge again. Everyone is smarter than me (that's what it feels like). I'm so proud of you for doing things that scare you. You've learned this year that it's okay to be in over your head if you got there honestly. It's okay to say "I don't know, but I'll find out." It's okay to be overwhelmed, and it's okay to be afraid (remember, fear is a superpower!).
But also, please by gentle with yourself. You don't expect your kids to get everything right on the first go - it's one of your strengths as a teacher, knowing how to break down complicated things and turn them into simple baby steps, and being comfortable knowing that sometimes, for no real reason, people get hung up at one of the points for a bit. You tell the kids when they're stuck, "You may think you're never going to get this, but someday you will, and then it will be your strength." So cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some time. Don't cheat yourself out of the growth process.
Think about what the universe has rewarded you for. Asking why. Saying "Explain that to me." Going with your gut. Being honest (the kind of honest that feels a little vulnerable). Investing in people (even when you didn't think you'd get a return on that investment).
Speaking of which - you have been so incredibly, incredibly lucky to be surrounded by people who have given generously of their time and knowledge, and gone above and beyond to give you a hand. They've made a huge investment in making the world a better place; don't you dare let them down.
And don't ever forget the breath-taking, dizzying relief of discovering that they exist, that there are people who still care about kind and doing the right thing and are trustworthy. We all desperately need those people - we need each other to be those people - so be that person for someone else!
I have absolutely no idea where you are in life as you're reading this. I know I have hopes and wishes for your future, but I also know that life sweeps us off our feet and carries us in directions we could never have imagined, and that's beautiful and okay. It seems apropos to say, swim for it. Enjoy the current while it lasts. Tread water when it doesn't. Float when you need a break. Don't ever forget how much you love the water on your skin, the sun in your face, the wind in your hair. Don't forget how much you've loved being you!