It’s week thirteen of my fifteen-week semester as an English teacher at a community college. This term I taught a full load, and I am currently at the mental place where I start listening to one song or album on repeat while I evaluate student work to help me focus, something sad enough to help me feel my feelings, but not so sad that I offend my grouchy default setting, stop working, and start to weep. Right now, it’s Bon Iver. Last week it was a Puerto Rican rapper named Residente. Who knows what next week will bring?
However exhausting being a college English teacher can be–grading, lesson planning, and attempting to keep my students engaged–being a teacher has unequivocally helped me to become a published writer.
I spend so much of my working life building other people up. I teach my students how to believe in themselves, reassuring them they can write. Just develop a process and turn off that voice of doubt.
I have spent so much time teaching myself to believe in other people, convincing students to believe in their talent, that I inadvertently taught myself how to believe in me, too. I realized that if I can be generous with other people, if I can empathize with my students who might be running late or feeling unmotivated, I could learn to be nice to myself. After all, aren’t I also a human being deserving kindness? Aren’t we all?
I know I have changed the way I approach writing. Today I opened up my Treadmill Journal and realized it’s been almost six months since I opened it and wrote down anything about the progress of my writing. I have been writing on my own here and there, mostly poems, but I have not been holding myself accountable for writing or keeping track of my progress.
In the past, I might have felt shame over this, but today, an hour before I teach my students about analyzing literary journalism and developing multi-modal texts, instead of spiraling and worrying about whether I would ever publish my book, I decided to show myself some compassion.
It’s nice to realize I can always come back to writing. Writing is my friend. In the past, I have written about falling in and out of love with writing and even giving up on the idea of me as a writer after earning my MFA.
Now writing and I are good pals. Sometimes we annoy each other, but in hard times, we have each other’s backs, in the same way I work with my students. It’s a circular process, one step feeds into the next and eventually they loop.