Thanks to Hellkom, I haven’t been able to access the internet at home through anything other than my cell phone for a long, long time. I’ve subsequently moved service providers and Hey Presto! I’m online again! This is a huge relief for me – I spend a lot of time online: reading articles, researching, keeping up with friends and family… The time offline has provided time for me to read books (something I have definitely neglected), to go to bed earlier (which is so good for my mood), and to be more introspective.
I’ve found that I’m getting better at trusting my intuition. For much of my life, I thought that what other people said and thought needed to be a benchmark for my opinions and thoughts. I suppressed my self under the delusion that others knew better and more than I did. This is not necessarily a false assumption. I have some really intelligent people around me – experts in their field. But it took me a long time to entertain the idea that I, too, am an expert in my field.
What field is this? Well, I am a high school English teacher by profession. And while I’m quite good at teaching young people to communicate effectively, to love and analyse literature and language, to recognise when they are being manipulated by language and images and to write well, I’ve never really felt that this is my area of expertise. Don’t get me wrong – I have 20 years of experience in the classroom. Your children are safe there! But my speciality goes deeper than language. I know my students. I can tell within a few minutes of a child’s entry into my class whether she is having a bad day or not. I have a knack of making children cry. In a good way. I mean, I can quickly cut through the facade that they attempt to use to cover their emotions.
I have helped students through trivial issues and through major ones – deep dark family secrets, horrific tales of abuse and neglect, and terrible grief at losing loved ones. I’ve been an ear to many sagas – seemingly petty friendship issues, pregnancy scares and frightening stories of bullying and rape. I am empathetic – which is why students have always come to me – and I’m fair. I don’t buy into the crap, so it’s easier for students to get to the point with me. I don’t judge. There is very little that my students can tell me they have done which would cause me not to care for them any more. My calm manner has allowed me to help my students to calm down and manage their stresses and prioritise their problems.
Have I solved the problems of the world? Sadly, nowhere near. Have I made a huge difference in my students’ lives? Some of them, certainly, but by no means all. I mean, there are certain cases where I have failed dismally – the girl who would just not open up, the one who came to me with reports of bullying and I did nothing about them, the boy who wanted to reveal something really personal whom I dismissed with a stupid, insensitive brush off. The fact that years after these events I still feel bad about them must say something about the regret I still feel. I realise that I might have been the only person who could have helped them at that time, because I was the only one who saw them. I guess I should also just acknowledge that I am human too, and my own life has had to take precedence over the lives of my students in some cases.
When I think of my success stories – my ex-students making such bold strides into the world now – my heart really feels bigger. I know I have made a difference in some of those lives: the boy who was arrested in my class with a joint in his pocket who is now making films, the girl with the painful past who is inspiring others with her stories, the one who just didn’t fit in who is now making an artistic impact on the world. Maybe that’s why I’m an English teacher – I encourage my students to write their stories and to express their deepest desires. The first step is the introspection – getting in touch with yourself and being honest with yourself – and to hell with the rules of the language!
I don’t think this expertise is limited to teenagers in my classroom. I think my friends and colleagues will agree that I’m a caring person who exposes their attempts to cover up and who offers support and nurturing when they need it. I’ve developed quite a keen understanding of people through my own therapy and by learning to trust my intuition.
Now that I’m back online, I’m going to try to go back to my resolution to blog on a weekly basis (maybe a little catch up initially – sorry for the bombardment, but there’s been an Alieon invasion, some exciting visits around town and probably some more insight that wants out) but I’m also going to try to value my time a little more and not be online so much. A little forced introspection is a good reminder of what we should be doing anyway.