This is something that my mother has always said to me, “it’s none of your business what other people think about you!” As you can imagine from that catch phrase that I was an insanely sensitive kid. I NEVER wanted anyone to be mad, and it would absolutely destroy me if I found out that someone was *gasp* mad AT me!! Now, being a girl I was not immune to fights with my friends, boyfriends, and falling victim to the rumor mill, but each and every time it would tear me up until the conflict was over. Going through these things definitely got easier over time, and I became tougher and tougher. Now, I teach high school students, and let me assure you, the fights, gossip and rumor mills still work the exact same way. I have daily conversations with my students who are battling these things, and it makes me SO happy that my teenage years are behind me…well, I thought they were!
I make an effort to be friendly and approachable to the people who are around me. Even when I feel absolutely horrible, I still try and drag myself though the day in the most positive way possible. It may not be pretty, I may be pale with unbrushed hair and a constant look of nausea and pain on my face…but I’m there and I’m trying to be as friendly and approachable as possible. Since I’ve become ill, this is something I have to work at every day. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. I want to continue to be a good teacher and co-worker through this hell that has become my life. It is because of this that what happened to me on Friday hurt me so deeply.
It was SkillsUSA day! The one day every year that our school closes down and the best of the best of our students compete in their SkillsUSA competitions. (If you don’t know what this is, look into it, it’s absolutely incredible…:) ) All teachers are there with their students chaperoning and coaching them through. It’s typically the best and most exciting day of the school year. Even though it’s stressful to be on a trip with 60 high schoolers, it’s so amazing that you forget about that stress. The day didn’t start out so great for me. I didn’t get as much sleep in the hotel as I would have liked, and starting my day that early was hard. My stomach was upset and I was dizzy…crazy dizzy. There was a moment that morning that I thought about heading to the ER to get some fluids to try and combat the feeling, but I didn’t, I plowed ahead. I showed up, I gave my students each a pep talk, I smiled and hugged them, and tried my damnedest. I was proud of them, and of myself for showing up. I was finally getting some relief from my meds, and that’s when it happened. It hit my like a ton of bricks. I was informed that there was some “shit talking” going on behind my back. Naturally I thought “oh no, which student did I piss off this time?!” but no, it wasn’t students, it was adults…and I didn’t even know what to say. Apparently two of them were having a discussion about how I was “stand offish” “cold” “bitchy”and seemed to “get annoyed easily.”….etc etc etc….
Okay…even typing those words makes me angry. Now, I don’t care who said or why…that’s not what this post is about and I’m not about calling people out. It’s about having compassion for people who are ill. Can I be all of those things? Yes. Absolutely. Do I ever mean to behave that way? No. Never. Ever….and I thought they knew that. These are people that I surround myself with on a daily basis. They were supposed to be safe people. These people KNOW that I’m sick. They KNOW what’s going on…and why they chose to have this discussion, on such a big important day…I guess I don’t even care. What I learned from this situation is this: sometimes you are on your own with chronic illness. Sometimes even your best efforts aren’t going to cut it. Being chronically ill is a terrible thing, and it creeps in at the worst possible moments. People I’ve talked to who are also ill usually offer this type of advice “be honest and open about your illness…let people in so they can help…try your best and that’s good enough…” Well, this was a hard lesson for me…but sometimes despite doing all the “right” things, people will not understand, they won’t give you the benefit of the doubt, and they will hurt your feelings…but you have to be tougher than that. You just HAVE TO.
I realize that the tone of this post is somber, but I don’t mean it to be that way. It was actually kind of freeing to have this happen. I really had to search deeply within myself to handle and work through this situation, and now that it’s Sunday it’s not hurting my feelings…as much. I’m going to continue to do the best that I can do, and be the best teacher I can be, because regardless of what some adults may think, my students don’t share their sentiments, and that means I’m doing something right!
Onward we go…I’m going to continue to try!