Soul for Sale

Ever have one of those weeks when you feel like you are selling your soul from 9-5 (or 7-4 if you share my schedule)? Yeah, this is one of the weeks when it feels like Thursday really should be Friday. Generally, I love my job. It involves a healthy level of autonomy and creativity, I can see the fruits of my labor within a few months, and I have new clients twice a year. Sweet, right? Well, usually.

Here is the dirty secret – I am a teacher. Yes. I willingly spend my days with adolescents., moody creatures with partially formed pre-frontal cortexes. I, a lover of literature and writing, chose to offer everything from William Shakespeare to Khaled Hosseini to human beings with the literary equivalent of the toddler white diet. I reveal the secrets of ferreting out logical fallacies to people whose general response to political trickery is, “so, what?”

I used to think that I would move on from high school and teach at the college level. I thought it would be teaching the willing, a magical kind of teaching where students come to class with margins of notes in their carefully read texts. They would passionately argue over the meaning of the text based on evidence they had highlighted. These imaginary students would never ask, “How many sentences do I HAVE to write?” They would not ignore the instruction while they were texting then get pissed off when they didn’t know what they were supposed to do. Instead, they would ask for advice on using this sentence structure or that. They would struggle to pick between the three excellent theses they had created. At some point I looked around my grad classes and realized that half of class had gone through the Sparknotes the day of class instead of reading. No, there was no teaching the willing.

Am I disillusioned? Today, I am. Today, I dealt with a parent objection to a novel, rude students, and teens jittery and irritable from sitting through standardized testing and thought, “this is killing something inside of me.” It was a passing thought, a sort of undercurrent thought, but once I heard it, I had to latch onto it and follow it to its source. I needed to reveal its petty, self-pitying, transitory nature. These are the kind of thoughts that, when allowed to fester as unchallenged truth, can turn all of life’s tasks and challenges into insurmountable obstacles. It is the kind of thought that can convince me that I can’t write today because I feel like there is nothing left after selling my soul by the hour. It is bullshit. The soul, the will, the essence of me, the dreams and ideas – these are not quantifiable material that can be used up in a day a small, first-world problems. I had to take a few minutes to say, “Fuck that bitch, she is NOT me.”

Basically, I was due to give myself a mental “Gibb-slap” and move on. It was time to write, even if it was just a quick blog entry =)

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