I have a bit of a fear of social awkwardness. I’m one of those people who ducks and hides when she sees former acquaintances on the street. I tend to avoid unnecessary conversations in which I’m not sure I’ll know what to say. It’s nothing against those people. It’s just awkward.

So it only took me five years, 

but I finally contacted my piano teacher of 10 years and met up with her yesterday.

Most people I talk to had traumatic experiences with their piano teacher growing up, but I was a piano performance major in college and went on to get a Master’s in it too, so no, I didn’t hate piano lessons growing up. But, I was a little afraid that my former teacher would be disappointed that my current life has zero classical music in it. After all she poured into me and all the potential I showed, what do I have to show for it?

As it turns out, she was just really happy to see me.

“You look exactly the same!” she exclaimed, kissing both my cheeks. (She is Russian.) She did ask me about my current status as a pianist, but then went on to share how even her own son, a talented violinist, ended up going to business school and hasn’t performed in a couple years.

As a teacher myself now, I should have known.

The relationship is the most important thing. More important than results or measurable success.

When I see former students, my face lights up, too. I feel like a mother whose grown children have come to visit (even though, in my case, we’ve only been apart a few months). Of course I would love to see my students go on to use the things I taught them to do incredible things, but even if they forgot their English entirely, I have would have no less joy seeing their faces. Seeing them is the thing. It’s the relationship I treasure, not the results.

Which is also the reason I should probably push past my fear of social awkwardness more often. The potential for awkwardness may be real, but the potential for relationship is real, too.

The good old days. When I showed my students a video clip of this concert, they didn’t believe it was me. Oh kids…



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Elizabeth is a teacher, preacher, musician, and writer. She has a Master's of Divinity and a Master's of Music, which represent her two great loves: Jesus and the arts. A half-Korean, half-white American, she spent seven years in South Korea teaching English. Elizabeth is a perpetual learner, a deep feeler, and a pursuer of beauty and truth.

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