Teaching and writing are both parts of my life that I both love and hate. There are so many moments during my day when I take absolute joy from what I am doing. There’s no feeling quite like hitting a flow in your writing, no matter the subject matter. Nor is there anything quite like the click moment you can physically see in a student’s eyes when they finally catch on to a new concept. I love these days; the professional high is overwhelming.
But it crashes easily just as well. I have months dry spells in my creative writing. Where I just can’t seem to motivate myself or, worse yet, when I forget how fulfilling it is. The self-doubt and imposter syndrome come on strong. Along with a stiff chaser of gut-wrenching fear.
Or the weeks in the classroom where it feels like I have been fighting so hard, working so hard, to make the learning fun, engaging, and approachable only to have teenage apathy deflate the balloon with a shrug and a snapchat. This is when I get stuck in the destructive pattern of working harder than my students at the learning, trying to force the learning, only to realize too late that I have done it again. They got what they wanted while I did the work for them. I really hate that.
This is the part where I am supposed to tell you to just focus on the good days. Or I let you know that we all have bad days. Maybe I drop my voice a little and whisper: “This too shall pass.”
More importantly, it shouldn’t.
It’s taken me a ridiculously long time in my life to figure this out, but those things that we love so much in this life can lead to our biggest frustrations as well. The hate just comes naturally. And it’s not a result of the universe conspiring against us, it’s just the way it is. Better than that, it is the symptom of something much more important. The fact that we still care.
Like a great many educators before me, I have often daydreamed about life outside of school. What it would be like to work in retail. The unadulterated bliss of never having to take your work home with you. The complete lack of obsession or attention to detail. Being able to let go . . . I can only imagine.
And not to have the voices of characters running around in my head. The peace of a full night’s sleep without waking up to jot down notes. The lack of anxiety wondering if every word, if every sentence, is ‘good enough’. Even just know when you are done would be a dream of its own.
The daydream ends on a nightmare, though. No problems to solve, no creativity to stoke, and no learning to challenge. No professional passion. That’s not a dream I would like to live.
No, I don’t have it all figured out just yet. There are days filled with love and hate. But I would much rather that then feeling nothing at all.