• Andrea Paulakovich

"You can't start the next chapter if you keep reading the last."


Why is change so hard? Is it because you are stepping into the unknown? Is is the fear of failure? Are we so ingrained with perfectionism that we cannot allow others to see our errors? Is it a comfortable place to live? Do we cling to our safety net?


I can tell you this...as someone who strives for perfection at every corner, I can completely understand fear. The past two weeks I have organized AP Testing for a district with over 2,000 students in each high school. This task felt insurmountable. I have always, I mean always, found a way to make something an A+.


I would say my very best effort, each and every day, earned me a D-.

Yes, that's right, I would give myself a D-. Why? It was new territory. No matter how many times I read the AP Coordinator's Manual, called College Board and waited on hold (while listening to the dreaded "I'm on hold music"), or asked others a million and one questions, I. MESSED, UP. Yes, that's right. I miscounted the number of exam packs in a tote. I didn't realize until the end of week one that I needed to ask proctors to count the number of materials in their tote before proctoring the test. If felt like I just couldn't do anything right. This really started to wear me down. I was exhausted each and every night. Normally, I am a work horse. I will work into the wee hours, go home and spend time with my family, and then when they are snoring, I will go back at it. Nope. Not this time. This time I would fall asleep sitting up on my couch when I entered the garage door and plopped down in my living room. I was exhausted. How much more could I take?


Just as I was finishing up week two, my grandfather passed away and I found out I had strep. This double whammy gave me a slap in the face. As I spent time with my family, mourning the loss of my grandfather, I took a drive with my brother around my grandfather's farm. As I sat quietly in the truck, staring at the beauty around me, I started thinking about everything I had done wrong with AP Testing.


Everyone is going to think I am a failure. Everyone will probably say, "Andrea messed that up." In that beautiful moment, a moment when I should have been thinking of anything but AP Testing, I realized why change is so hard. When you are in charge of what's comfortable, you can place yourself on cruise control. You know your way around. It feels safe. I had been placed in a high intense environment, with content that was unfamiliar, and was given no other choice but to dive in head first. This TERRIFIED me! I told myself from the beginning that I would FAIL. I set myself up for failure. I spoke the words out loud - "I will fail" - and then I watched them come to fruition.


This is one of the most important wake up calls I have received. When doubt creeps in, when fear of change whispers "you can't," you have to fight for yourself. You have to BELIEVE that you can. You will! When you allow words of negativity to leave your tongue, you are giving the fear of change, the fear of failure, POWER. It doesn't deserve a drop of attention. What advice would I give to myself if I could take the DeLorean Back to the Future?


"Stop looking back and wishing you had what was before. Stop looking back and wishing for the "last chapter" and see the beauty in the next. Know it will be hard. Know their may be tears, anger, and frustration, but in the end, the beauty, the growth, and the time will all be worth what is waiting on the other side."

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