Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm doing my best, Jane.

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can."
Jane Austen


I’m generally a happy person, but I wonder sometimes if that’s because my life has been relatively easy in recent years. I have everything I need, and a lot of what I want. I’m lucky, and I know it.

Yesterday I was sifting through some evaluations for some classes I taught. I think I’m a good teacher, and I look forward to reading my evaluations because… well, everyone likes to be complimented, right? It’s nice to be rewarded for hard work.

I was soaking up the positive comments, even laughing out loud at one (totally irrelevant one) that said, “The librarian is hot!!!” Then I saw this one, scrawled angrily on the page:

“This librarian talks to us like we’re in elementary school. If this is college, teach like it’s college!!”

It was the only negative, unconstructive comment out of hundreds. But suddenly it was the only one I could think about.

Immediately, I was embarrassed that I cared so much. But it stung. I replayed my classes in my mind, my every movement and intonation, trying to see myself as this student had. I let it ruin the rest of my afternoon. On the way home I felt rather babyish when I realized that I wanted to cry.

But I didn’t. I do what I always do, which is to tell myself, "Get some goddamned perspective. Think of all the people around you who have real problems, and shut up."

Life has a way of slapping you across the face just when you need it most.

M had a home visit with a family last night. A family that is struggling to make ends meet. Their daughter goes to school in clothes that don’t fit. She barely sees her parents because they work long hours, which is causing some serious behavioral problems. She doesn’t have a winter coat. There is no money for Christmas presents.

We’re already anonymously buying presents, winter clothing, and grocery store gift cards for two other families at his schools. There are lots of others who need the same.

I hang my wool coat on the coat rack, put my lunch in the refrigerator, and sit down in my comfortable office chair.

Perspective has been restored.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Carolyn said...

My oldest daughter was telling me in the car yesterday that she gets really jealous of other people.

I told her when I feel envious, that I remind myself of how much we have.

But that comment would have hurt my feelings too. You have a right to be sad about it.

Some college students still act like they're in elementary school anyway. Maybe the commenter was one of them.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Or you could think of it this way, at least one person thinks that you're hot. No?

I do that too, dwell on the bad and forget about the good. I need to start gaining some perspective though. Like really need to start.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

It is hard to keep perspective sometimes. And C has a valid point.

I read somewhere that it takes 3 positive comments to overcome 1 negative one.

12:10 PM  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

I deal with college students on a regualr basis and it's the ones who most angrily proclaim, "I am an adult, treat me like one!" who act the least like one. So consider the source, apply any necessary changes if there's any truth in it at all, and remember: you're HOT! : )

I often wish I had more money to help people; I don't mean to sound all Pollyanna-ish and holy, but if I were to hit the lottery, I would enjoy greatly handing out money. As well as my new Jaguar : )

12:25 PM  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

I deal with college students on a regualr basis and it's the ones who most angrily proclaim, "I am an adult, treat me like one!" who act the least like one. So consider the source, apply any necessary changes if there's any truth in it at all, and remember: you're HOT! : )

I often wish I had more money to help people; I don't mean to sound all Pollyanna-ish and holy, but if I were to hit the lottery, I would enjoy greatly handing out money. As well as my new Jaguar : )

12:25 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

Oh, Liz, sometimes I feel like we are Internet kindred spirits. I cried two weeks ago because after purchasing some lavish gifts for Luke's mother's birthday, he bought and mailed a birthday card to her because we had forgotten to enclose one with the presents. I was so insulted; I felt like he was saying the presents weren't enough, that we hadn't done enough for her special day.

Yes, I was on the verge of getting my period, why do you ask?

There are some things I should probably keep to myself.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

You guys are the best. Thanks.

I'm done sniffling. I don't know why it feels like a personal failing when something like that bothers me. Should be strong! Like Wonderwoman!

1:40 PM  
Blogger Zen Master said...

Basically what babelbabe said. My response to a comment like that would have been "Act like an adult and then you will be treated like one."

I've worked in a college setting and I've done mini workshops for computer use. Only an asshole would have left a remark like that. Total lack of maturity therefore demanding that you fill that void.

Sooooo their problem and not yours, still sucks though.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Betsy said...

Doesn't it break your heart? I always find it tragic that kids are often left alone because the parents HAVE to work for very long hours, or several different jobs, and not to afford the latest plasma TV or vacation to Disney World. Just to afford a roof and food.
However, I find it equally as tragic that many parents are at home all of the time, yet spend no time with their children by choice. Grrrrrrrrr.....

11:20 PM  

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