Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just thoughts, and an invitation to share your own...

My quote of the week is something like “Please at least PRETEND to listen to me, folks. It will do you some good.” Help me to prove that I am worth something in this school. I am a student. I am not a teacher. I am introvert in an extrovert's world. I was trained as a teacher, but there is no way I would ever do that job again. I enjoy being an assistant most days; this bothers me greatly. I am ready to move on. I am ready to move up, but where do I go from here? I will ignore the fact that I am just like the student that told me today that he sucks at writing and gave up. I had nothing to tell him. I tell myself that I suck at everything ALL THE TIME. It's time to make a change. It’s a common story, more common that imagined for most late twenty-some things. I find myself quite frequently accepting less than I know students can do out of pure frustration, and I’m unhappy with myself for it. This is one of the many reasons I will never be a teacher. It is also one of the many reasons I am looking toward nursing school or physician’s assistant school more and more.

It’s that time of year folks. It’s the time of year for reflection. It’s the time of year that all perfectionists and idealists reflect and come to the conclusion that we can all do that much better. We set lofty goals for ourselves and others. We harp on ourselves and others. We bitch and moan. We take it out on others at holiday gatherings. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m dreading my family gatherings because of this very reason. I already tell myself that I haven’t accomplished shit this year, so I don’t want to hear it from anyone else. In anticipation of this, I turn inward and start criticizing myself. I realize of course that this defeats the whole spirit of the holiday. I hate giving gifts because I can never find the “perfect” gift. Does this sound familiar? I hate starting conversations because I don’t want to tell others what I’ve been up to this year for fear of the compare game. You know the drill. “You’ve been doing X with him?” “I’ve changed the world. What have you done this year?” You know the compare game well, if you haven’t participated already in some form or another.

I challenge myself and all of you to get out of your own head this holiday season. To do this, I have to sometimes disconnect from the world. I have to forget that I have a close friend teaching English at a Chinese University, and another friend writing India’s first draft of a child abuse law, overseas, before heading to South Africa. I have countless friends finishing their fifth year of teaching, and I quit mid-year of my first. I have to let go of this. But how? I have to lobotomize myself to the fact that I have been out of college for over five years already, and I’m not married at *gasp* almost twenty-eight years of age. IT DOESN'T MATTER. At the heart of my being I know this. At the heart of my being I know that I’m worthy of praise and love even if I haven’t completed a full year of teaching anywhere or have no savings account to speak of.

Those things, material things, will come much later. I have my health and good friends, and that is all that is important. Instead of giving my parents my Samantha American Girl doll so they will shut up about grandchildren, I will calmly point out that I do things on my own schedule, when I please and be OK with that. I am done pleasing other people. It is time to please myself. Then maybe I can go and make a real difference.

To those in helping professions and tend toward a perfectionist and idealist side to their work: What helps you cope? What gets you through the day? How do you prevent compassion fatigue? How do you keep from dwelling on the negative? Thoughts welcome.

I will do it by telling myself and others that I've made a small difference this year, and I won't elaborate, no matter how much I want to. I relocated to a new city ALL BY MYSELF three years ago and have survived almost THREE Minnesota winters BY MYSELF. I will be kind to myself. I have finished additional coursework and am on the way to a Master's Degree. I will make it overseas one day. I will stay positive. That IS good enough. No questions asked.
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