My Initial Want of Approval

lannister

“Jugglers and singers require applause.” -Lord Lannister

Aside from my growing obsession with the intriguing characters and tantalizing story lines, I thoroughly enjoy the thought-provoking comments littered throughout the hit HBO series, Games of Thrones. The above quote was disgustedly uttered by a father towards his son, who wanted some recognition for his bravery on the battlefield. And at that moment, I felt connected to the son. There are times when I want to be recognized for the often thankless hard work that I do. There are times when I want to feel appreciated by those closest to me. But, I caught myself, while in this empathetic lull, and shifted my attention to the father’s words. Lord Lannister, though cruel, was absolutely correct. There are those professions in which applause is mandatory (editor’s note: all teachers can attest that our profession is definitely not one of them), and countless others in which recognition is scarce (editor’s note: just nod along fellow teachers). And then I started to think about why I, like Tyrion, lust after appreciation and recognition, especially from those closest to me.

It is linked to my fear of failure and, more acutely, my feeling of inadequacy and/or feeling wayward. The hallowed approval of those close to me falsely signals that I am adequate, that I am doing the right thing, that I am somehow how on the right path by pleasing them.

But then I caught myself again from falling down this self-loathing, dependent on others for my joy free-for-all that I sometimes masochistically endure, and reminded myself of one of my life sayings, “Don’t judge me.” Often when people hear the phrase, they think that I am repelling potential negative criticism. But most fail to realize that praise is the prettier side of judgement. In other words, criticism and praise are two sides of the same coin, aptly named judgement.

So when I say “don’t judge me,” not only am I telling the other person not to flip their coin and share their sentiments based on which side lies upward, but, more importantly, I am reminding myself that I do not care about their coin; I do not need their recognition or approval. Instead, the saying reminds me to find solace in my own decision and continue to work tirelessly because I am not doing this work or making those decisions for the applause. Nope. I am doing the work so that my students’ lives will be filled with opportunities so that they can make their own choices, which will craft their life narrative. I am making personal decisions because I want to make them!

Thanks Game of Thrones for another moment, in which I was able to dig a little deeper into my character by watching the drama unfold between fictional characters.

Doing the Dishes

I been in a funk lately. Bunch of things on my mind. It changed my mood greatly. But I want light to shine.

I lay, wide awake, in bed. Damn, my ceiling fan needs to be cleaned again, I say to myself. Add it the ever growing list. It is still so dark in my room, I wonder what time it is. I am unsure of the time because my nearsightedness does not allow to me to see the blue, illuminated numbers on my iHome located roughly ten feet from the head of my bed. Ugh. I need to go to the eye doctor and get some new glasses, adding more to my ever expanding to-do list that resides uncomfortably in my head. I turn onto my side, folding the single pillow to create a more comfortable shape for my neck. Does not work. Still uncomfortable, and now I am resting on a pressure point from an old bruised hip injury, the resulting pain inching its way through my nervous system, high five-ing nerve endings on its slow jog to my brain, the finish line. Ugh. I roll back onto my back and feel a slightly cold object on my lower back. My iPhone. I fumble it and regain control of it. I push the button and the screen’s brightness alerts me to the time, 3:27am. Umph. I twist and turn for a few more never ending minutes before I am able to get back to sleep.

6:07am.

I do not want to get up, I think, as I roll onto my hip again. My thinking is inundated with various thoughts, responsibilities, and personal issues that refuse to let my mind find peace. The pain from my hip does not bother me this time, registering a low blip on my mind’s radar. I take a deep breath. I’ll mediate, I convince myself. I need to because I feel overwhelemed with emotions and it isn’t even 7am yet. Too early. I inhale. Awww…fleeting serenity. The momentary blank mental picture is quickly drowned out by emails that need to be skillfully created, hotel and travel arrangments that need to be made, and phone calls and lesson plans that need to happen today. My family. I want to scream, but what will it do. These thoughts are invisible bullies that, left unattended, can be debilitating and frustrating. They’re known to hang with depression and self-loathing, and I just revoked those losers’ work visas in my mind.

Change is necessary and it will only happen with me. I am in control of that much.

I push the warm sheets and comforter, the bullies’ allies, off of my still tired body. The coldness of the wood floor rush from the bottom of my feet to the top of my brain, signaling my eyes to look for my house slippers. There they go. I slip on the warm footsies and make my way to the kitchen. There are dishes piled up in the sink. See, the kitchen is my emotional gauge. Depending on how many dishes in the sink can give one an insight into my mind. Cluttered sink = cluttered mind. I stand there, and wash the dishes. While the image of a sleepy body washing dishes is not as enticing as the one of Eva Longria, the picture gave me everything this morning.

While there is still more work to be done, I was able to get through a portion of it. Small steps. More manageable.

Luckily my busy schedule will keep me from cooking tonight, so there will be no dishes in the sink.

Hopefully, my mind can remain as clean.