Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Instructions on the Box

Lately I've been ending my work days tired, rather braindead and feeling like no matter how many steps I take forward, there are a million more I still must make and the very definite potential of stepping onto a landmine of disaster.

One, I am a newly qualified teacher. Two, I am a newly qualified teacher, from Canada. Three, I am not naturally extroverted. Four, I am basically a walking enclyclopaedia with the memory of an elephant and imagination the size of the Everest. I have a flipping, endless, library tower for a memory bank after all. Plus, like just about every other person on the planet, I have my fairly large share of self-esteem challenges so all in all, I generally don't feel nearly as good as the stranger plonked next to me on the train.

Therefore and naturally so, in order to succeed and to know that I have succeeded, I am the sort who loves to have a tidy list of things to check off that will determine whether or not I am actually a decent human being.

The problem? Life isn't an IKEA instruction manual. In fact, it is more of a DIY, over the past 24 years these are the bits I've picked up from various garage/yard/boot sales and now, now, you are asking me to manifest it into something which will create a tangible output of success.

Excuse me while I go scream in a corner and bang my head against my desk for a spell.

There. Are. No. Instructions.

I have built a brick wall out of my life. Ordered. Expected. Going from one direction to another.

Also known as the acronymn, TANI, this has recently become a point of contention in the jury house of my library (in my head). See, as a teacher, instructions are just a teensie bit, very much vital; both in terms of corraling thirty plus teens who are exciteable or tempermental and in terms of directing the same teens to comprehend and respond to the material and challenges being presented in a logistically and ordered fashion that will lead them to a greater understanding.

On the other hand is the side of me that has come off of years of being driven to the very goal I am living, I mean, I have had the aim of being a teacher since at least the age of fifteen. Thus I am left really with only my desire to become properly published (ie: publishing house published) and travel to all the places I want to see.

And so here I am, feeling quite adrift, very much in a state of d├ępaysement (the feeling of being wrongfooted when not in ones home country, of being out-of-place).

I am finally in an actual job and considered an actual adult which both are bizarre since I still see myself as practically a teenager. Yet, ironically in my eyes, any coworker I mention being just 24 for too looks at me like I must be fudging the truth. Most think I am closer to 28 at least. Should I feel insulted by that? I haven't decided. Either way, I am definitely not anywhere near the maturity level of other 24 year olds I work with who to me, are so extroverted and very much into socialising, gossip and general goofiness so perhaps it isn't all that bad. 

Is there a secret service agent around the corner about to arrest me for pretending to be someone I am not? Who knows.

All that is are footsteps to make. One in front of the other. Day by day. I listen to Shane Koyczan's "Instructions for a Bad Day" regularly now. It doesn't help much, beyond the minute or so after, but perhaps, like the "fake it until you make it" smiling method, if I listen to advice on how to get through difficult days full of students who behave so horribly you cannot believe you are on the same planet still, perhaps a good day will stick. Perhaps my library mind will recognise 99.9% of life is literally incapable of being categorised and does not belong in an IKEA shop. After all, even all those horrible kids have reasons for being horrible that go beyond instructional logic. My writing on these blogs goes beyond instructional logic. It rolls and rambles and tumbles back 'round again.

This week I am going to challenge myself to have one day without a single plan. One day where I listen to no expectations from myself, others or society. I am not near the success of some of my role-models and yet there are many who are not near the success of myself. I am living a dream. Perhaps it hasn't turned out as lily-tipped as I imagined but if everything came in an IKEA box, life would get rather mundane and predictable and already, there are days when even I, in all my love of order and expectation, like to throw out quirks that throw others off.

A student gave another teacher in the English department a dead bird's leg. It looked like a curled, miniature skeleton of an angel wing. Crackled and delicate. Tiny and tender. It grossed out everyone else. If I could I'd have a whole skeleton hiding out in my back cupboard. Maybe a jar with a preserved heart. It would go fantastically with Edgar Allan Poe's "Tell Tale Heart" short story too.

Anyway, as I challenge myself to have one whole day where I plan absolutely "nothing" I challenge all of you to pick one day this week to plan absolutely "nothing." At the end of it, all I ask is that you reflect, mentally, or through writing, how did you feel throughout the day, what fears, doubts, freedoms or frustrations did you have?

I bet you it will all be positive realisations. Fare thee well!

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