Friends, I was going to begin with an apology, but doing so would invalidate what I'm about to say, so... I'll jump right in with an acknowledgment. My social media content is at times dark--humored and otherwise. You know this already if you follow me.
And if I could "normalize" anything (aside from wanting to normalize a new way to say this thing because the word "normalize" is no longer the shiny penny it once was)... Where was I? Yes, if I could "normalize" one thing today, it would be to normalize a wide range of human emotions and expressions online.
People are complex and messy. We laugh and cry and get pissed off at old men in hats who drive too slow in the fast lane. We drink too much (sometimes) and eat too much (sometimes) and don't get enough sleep (all the time). We have cats who claw the furniture and geriatric dogs who don't like to take their pills. We have unfolded laundry and sinks full of dishes and yards that aren't in the running for Better Homes and Gardens. We have depression and anxiety and buyer's remorse about this thing or that--bed frames, carports full of crap, and careers.
And honestly? I think THAT is normal. What ISN'T normal is a perfect life portrayed perfectly online. What isn't normal is to be positive all the time.
Look, I've had a fair share of yuck in life, of difficult things that I've tried to silverline. Most of us have. So I'm not looking to wallow in self-pity here, and I'm not looking for a sandwich when I share that I'm stuck, when it's dark and I'm overwhelmed. (Thank you, Brené Brown).
As many of you know, I have a love-hate relationship with teaching. I love the students, dearly. I love my colleagues, and I love learning new things, the sharing and growing with people. But I hate almost everything else about it. What I dislike is the bureaucracy and the bullshit and how cheaply I sold myself out, willingly, for a paycheck. That last one's on me.
There are those who live and breathe traditional teaching as a profession, and I tip my hat to them with absolute respect. But the "cut me and I bleed teaching"? I'm not that person, not in the conventional sense, and I can't pretend to be. I've tried.
Everyone has their thing, right? Please respect that this one isn't mine. Standardized tests and DOE dicta; pedagogical pronouncements and an endless stream of acronyms. Can I say any of this without being scorned? Teaching is a respectful artform. Like music or painting or customer service or medicine or even waiting tables: You absolutely know when you meet someone who understands his or her gifts and lives there, thrives there.
I give 100% to teaching, often more than 100%. And that's the problem. I end up with nothing left for the one thing that I do love. I have time, perhaps, but no energy. No vigor or vim, only vitriol and vinegar. I feel it even now, typing this, feeling guilty because I haven't finished my syllabi or loaded up my Google Classrooms for the new year. School starts next week, and I have a billion-zillion things to do.
Not one of those things involves writing, yet here I am, living a half-life somewhere between guilt and bliss, regret and living my purpose. Is it procrastination, what I'm doing? A pipe dream? A headache I willingly give myself or the oxygen I breathe?
The thing you do, even the thing you do well, isn't always the thing that you feel called to do.
And there it is: the rub, the sandpaper skinsuit I've been putting on for years and years. There's the J.O.B. and then there's the thing that sets your soul on fire. I wish I could reconcile the two.
Honestly, I don't know how to get from here to there. I don't know how to pretend. Not really. I don’t know how to make enough money doing what I love or how to promote it. I don't even know who will read this with the Zuckernut interweb algorithms as they are. Maybe that last one is a good thing, and maybe I do want a sandwich.
So what do I want? Here's a short list: I'd like to teach writing workshops. Spiritual workshops. Intimacy workshops. And workshops about earth-friendly practices. [*lights candles, turns on new agey music or maybe Santana, dances naked and howls at the moon]
I know manifestation doesn't happen on its own or by accident. It takes work and time and energy. So what happens when those raw ingredients are in short supply, when your work week is more than 40 hours a week? When your time is limited. When your energy is tanked? When things don't make sense and life is spinning out of control, it's tempting to think that positive thinking alone can get us where we need to be. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying. I don't want my witch card revoked.
In the meantime, I don't think we shouldn't apologize for wanting what our hearts want, even if it doesn't look pretty online. Let's normalize NOT apologizing for wanting more, that special thing each of us does. I hope you'll join me.