When Achievement Becomes Armor, the True Self Gets Lost

It took an earth shattering change to realize that I forgot how to be myself or who I am. My achievement had always been my armor, until I was forced to shed it.

For so long my identity has been related to my achievements…

I am a Master of Music Education. I am a violinist with 2 decades worth of experience.

I was an orchestra teacher…

Recently I’ve been working towards new achievements.

Successful small business owner. Successful content creator. Becoming a servant leader.

I have spent hours pouring over a screen to figure out how to become those things.

I’ve read books, articles, podcast, invested in coaching programs, and trainings.

The message was always the same, “Be authentic! Be vulnerable! Connect with people! Be real.”

I felt secure in my titles, because I thought that safety is in that security. However, things were so secure, I didn’t know what those things meant for me until the catalyst moment.

I was sitting on a video chat with other people, friends, who are in my line of work I had been doing on the side.

It was our usual morning Zoom meeting where we do trainings together and I was feeling stressed about my current position.

I interviewed for it, and I hadn’t heard anything. People told me not to worry because generally people get their jobs back during this type of thing.

I was worried.

My friend told me to send an email asking if I was submitted for rehire, and that I had the right to know.

After we got off of our call, I opened my email.

I took a deep breath, and started typing to my assistant principal whom I thought was in charge and making the decisions on this. I found out later on that his decision wasn’t the final say.

I get a phone call from the school. I was excited to hear my assistant principal’s voice after not seeing or hearing from anyone outside of Google Hangouts since the pandemic started.

Then it happened.

“I thought you deserved better than an email to hear this…”

Oh, no… I thought.

“I’m sorry to say that you were not submitted for rehire.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched anime in those scenes where the character learns bad news, and the scene goes black and white, and all you hear is a gust of wind, but that was me in that moment.

I won’t go into the details of the rest of the call, but I will say that this wasn’t the beginning of my identity crisis, but it brought it to a head.

You see, when I found that out, I was a mix and a mess of emotions, but at the same time it was oddly like the world had been lifted off of my shoulders.

Was I going to look for another job and bear the title “Orchestra Teacher” anymore? A title I spent 8 years and $75,000 to achieve going all the way through grad school?

No, I decided that I was not going to search for another teaching job.

I wasn’t going to pick up my family and move again.

I wasn’t going to be a place holder for someone who was “a better quality applicant,” and have to potentially do this process over again.

I was and still am done with education for now…

And honestly, this is probably the best thing that could have happened, because for the first time in a long time I felt free and unburdened.

People tend to think that all teaching is is giving the kids a great education and enjoying my time with them.

I will tell you that if that’s all there is to it, I would be looking for another position in a heart beat.

But teaching is more politics than it is actually teaching, and sometimes those politics and the uncertainty of being a probationary teacher can get pretty toxic.

I couldn’t see it because I wore that title like the badge of a martyr, and those around me who didn’t understand thought what I was doing was noble, and I should protect that.

For six years I did, until that moment.

Once I let go of protecting that title, I realized the reason why I couldn’t find my authentic self. Why an exercise of expressing who I am seemed futile, awkward, and fake.

Somewhere along the way I lost my fire.

I was suppressing myself and hiding the best parts of me.

It’s been killing my relationships, my business, and my drive to be a leader.

While it was earth shattering to be stripped of something that was a majority of who I thought I was for half of my life, I suppressed a lot of myself, my ideals, my life, and family.

I now no longer have to do that. I’m finally going to step out of the closet for real.

This is perfect because it’s pride month this month.

I am a bisexual Afro-Latina woman, who is engaged to the most beautiful lesbian woman, and we have a very intelligent, creative, and beautiful non-binary child.

We also have a cat.

I am free to say that I have a hodgepodge of friends across the rainbow who never gave a crap about what people who really don’t matter think of them.

And they have all been there for me, most of them unconditionally.

All of them covered in ink, and piercings, some are stay at home moms and some are national renowned drag kings and drag queens.

These people are my people.

As for myself, I love Nike shoes, punk rock music, and gaming.

I love to dance. I love to sing. I love to draw. I love to write.

I’m an entrepreneur with big dreams of acquiring wealth, and I realize playing it safe and suppressing myself isn’t going to get me to any of those dreams.

If you’re planning on lecturing me about admitting this stuff in black and white, save it, because I’m a grown ass woman.

I’m tired of my self concept being invalidated because a small group of closed minded people in my life think it’s improper for people to know these things, or they don’t agree.

I am not going to let anyone silence me anymore.

As of this moment I’m free to be me. No regrets, no apologies.

Classically yours,


Author: Angela Ruiz

I’m an amateur blogger trying to find my way in the world. As a Master of Music Education and 6 years of teaching orchestra my life is heading in a new direction. As an entrepreneur and violinist, I’m exploring this new normal.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: