Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Impotent Potential

So it happened again. Another kid blurted out in the middle of class, "Why are you teaching". Now, at first, I thought she meant, why did I stand up to help them w/ the songwriting lesson but, when she repeated herself w/ such a look of bewilderment/disappointment, I felt like I was sitting back in freshmen orientation when my mother turned to me and asked me why I picked education and not business as a major. My answer then is my answer now, it was the easiest "choice". I filled out my college/job application, bubbled the first thing I saw, and stuck it in the mailbox. Not too much later, I was accepted/hired.

But, really, the answer is as it was then, I'm too lazy to do anything else. How do I tell a kid I'm pushing that I settled and am not living up to my "potential" yet I'm not doing anything to change it? How do I tell my grandfather that I'm not following his direction, that I've allowed the blanket of complacency to stifle my drive and my dreams?

What I'm dealing with is bigger than procrastination; it's me. I'm my problem. I've spent so much of my life trying to do/be opposite of what people tell me to do/be that it's ingrained in my brain. I've heard, "You're wasting your potential" through all of my school life and, now, 15 years after I graduated, I'm hearing it again from my own students, kids younger than me. But now, (here come the excuses) I have real responsibilities. I can't just up and go jump feet first into the fading flood of my dreams; I have kids to take care of, that I take care of-- all by myself. I've got bills that need paying: rent, insurances, internet, food, car, etc. I can't just abandon ship. That's not what a real responsible adult does. Besides, those kids need me as a teacher; I can reach them and be there for them through their times of need.

But what about my needs and my responsibility to myself? I don't know. Am I entitled to even think that way? I don't know. Would my kids be better off with a mother who's struggling to fulfill a dream instead of one who's just struggling to fill their bellies?

I just don't know.

Yet, I teach my students to aim high. I demand near academic perfection from my kids (I'm afraid I'll be stuck at my current salary and my oldest is off to college in just two years so he needs to pull his weight to make sure scholarships come his way). I tell my colleagues to go for their desires, to place their talents in areas that feed their passion. Meanwhile, I sit on my bed with the glaring computer screen as my only source of light, counting the pennies that comprise my paycheck while trying not to think of the bills, which exceed my income, that are due.

I really need to practice what I preach.


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