This month, I packed 16 years of traditional teaching in four boxes and brought them into my home. They are still there. Like a threat. I can’t unpack them.
Because I know if I open them, this is real: I am self-employed. I am responsible for everything in those boxes, real and imaginary. Where to put the stapler is the least of my concerns, but so long as the stapler stays in the box I don’t have to take a step towards more terrifying things, like estimated taxes and health insurance.
I jest. I’m way too much of a control freak to not have a solid working knowledge of both.
But what if I get them wrong?
Perfectionism, my Sisyphus…coupled with my wicked hyper-focus and it’s a black whole. Except now I have no co-workers to mock me out of it. (You should see me at the beginning of a school year…no lesson plans, but damn does our classroom door look AH-MAZING.) I knew this would be an issue. It’s always been an issue. My brain goes with what it finds interesting, and what it finds interesting is determining the best way to organize paper clips. (by size, texture and color in separate labeled pull-out drawers)
If I open those boxes, I’ll never be able to do any of this.
Instead, I head to yoga. Because when in doubt, flee. Except I couldn’t. Because my pocket-sized goddess of a teacher kept calling the wrong sides. She can’t tell left from right. So I headed to therapy. My therapist had to move the peanut butter and Lysol so I could sit down. He actually does have an issue with hoarding.
Sheesh, how is it that the most gifted people I know openly struggle with something fundamental to their craft?
[stops, smacks forehead]
Those I look to for support are not perfect. Does it make them any less effective? To the contrary, I think it makes them better at what they do. They’re human, they get it. I find that comforting. My yoga teacher makes jokes or asks students to call out the sides when she gets confused. My therapist lets me ask questions about his “collection” (my term) and answers honestly.
They don’t shy away from what’s hard for them, and they certainly don’t let it dictate their career choices.
Should I refrain from helping students who struggle to organize their time and materials because I struggle to manage my time and materials? Nah. It hasn’t stopped me so far, and by all accounts I’m pretty good at what I do. And eventually I’ll be pretty good at taxes and insurance, too. It’ll be hard. It’ll take time. I’ll have to ask for help. But I know that by acknowledging and accommodating my own struggles, I can in turn liberate my students from theirs.
But I suppose I should liberate the stapler first…