“I used to think you were a great teacher, but you’re not.”
This is a line from one of my worst teaching moments. It was delivered by a spitting mad woman who was a decade older than me.
She stood in front of me.
She pointed her finger at me.
She raised her voice.
I stood frozen in fear.
What was happening?
People don’t yell at me. It so rarely happens. It always feels like a visceral, physical punch in the gut. Surreal.
I have spent my whole life trying to do the “right” thing so people don’t get upset with me. So no one yells. So things like what happened to me don’t happen.
And yet, things that we don’t want to happen sometimes do happen.
Sometimes people yell at me.
I could regret that it happened. I certainly spent a lot of mental energy wondering how I could have avoided it. But it happened. And I froze. And then, when she stormed away from me, I went out to my car and sobbed. It took me a long time to calm down enough to drive home. I was shaken, stirred, deeply in pain.
I care about my students so much. I care about doing a “good” job. I care about being a “good” person. And yet, sometimes people are shitty to good people. Sometimes people project their emotions on good people. Sometimes people see that you won’t fight back and so they throw a bunch of punches.
Instead of regretting these moments, I can rejoice.
I learned so much from that day.
It’s not OK to talk to me that way.
It’s not OK to take your problems out on me.
It’s not OK to fix me with a label that doesn’t match the contents of this container.
I am a good teacher.
I am a good person.
I am also a human being.
I don’t want anyone to talk to me like that, but they might. It might happen again. And next time, I know a different way to react.
Hey, this is not ok for me.
I’m going to step out of this conversation.
This is too much for me right now. I need a moment.
I’m taking myself out of this situation now. We can talk again later when I’ve calmed myself down.
Full responsibility for me. Full responsibility for my reaction. Full control of what I can do. “I” statements. Care. Consideration. Compassion for myself.
People are going to do what they do. Sometimes they might not treat you well. You can always treat yourself well.
Beautiful, human, messy reader: That thing you regret? Rejoice. It can teach you a lot. It can lead you back to yourself… the only person who is in your control. The person who most needs your love.
Loving you out there! You are so “good.” You are so wonderfully human. You always have been. Nothing has gone wrong. Our challenges are leading us back to love. XO