In addition to writing and blogging, I’ve also been teaching writing to postgraduate students at a local college.
Apparently it’s not my calling.
My students didn’t like my slide shows. They didn’t like how I taught or what I taught. Some claimed I taught them nothing. Apparently I’m awful and they don’t even like the sound of my voice. It’s too high pitched, one student told me, in addition to a barrage of other insults. So recently, at the end of the very last class, I said, “Thank you and good luck,” and I left. I couldn’t bear to speak to them in my high-pitched voice, to defend my slides, to have them laugh at me no matter what I said. The only thing I could do was leave.
The sound of the ring leader’s “Bahaaaaaa” witch laugh echoed down the hall as I walked it one final time.
I’ve spent the last several weeks—wait, scratch that—my entire life, caring what other people think. I’ve been taking things personally. Being sensitive. Agonizing over what went wrong and what I could have done differently so to make everyone like me.
It was true of my marriage, too. I blamed myself; wondered what was wrong with me that helped bring about the end. I did everything I could to improve myself in the aftermath. Therapy. Exercise. Diet. Clothes. I changed it all. But after this latest Bahaaaa incident, I’ve done some soul searching. I’ve sought advice from people whom I love and trust. What I’ve realized is the following:
- Not everyone can or will like you.
- You will not like a lot of other people either.
- It’s nobody’s fault; it just is.
- There’s no point making yourself sick over things you can’t control.
- Sometimes – lots of times – it’s not you, it’s them. You can’t blame yourself.
- The only people whose opinions you should care about are your closest circle of friends and your family. Nobody else matters.
I know that this is easier said than done. I’m trying to take my own advice to heart. Here are a few things that have helped me feel good about myself when other people put me down:
- I do things for other people. I will bring flowers to a friend or drop off something I’ve baked at their house. I will pick up their kids and help out even if it’s not convenient for me just because I enjoy feeling like I helped.
- I exercise. Especially when I’m angry or frustrated, there is nothing like a good workout to boost endorphins and exhaust my body as physically as I exhaust myself mentally. Somehow a good spin class makes me better able to cope with everything else.
- I cuddle with my kids. I love their soft skin and hair that smells like baby shampoo. I love their warm bodies, their chubby hands around my neck. I will tell them I love them and they will tell me that they love me “super super super super much.” It is completely genuine and unconditional. The rest of the world melts away.
- I call my best friends, my boyfriend, my mom or sister and secretly delight in hearing their reassuring words. “Good for you for leaving that class. That student sounds like a loser anyway. Screw her!”
I have realized that if I try my best every day to be a good person, if I focus on the people and things that really matter, I will always have the last laugh. Even if it is high pitched. Bahaaaaa!