Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reflections of Insecurity

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There are times in my life when people point out my flaws. I know that these imperfections exist. I am conscious that I have them. Believe me, there is nobody in this world that knows better than I do that they exist.

Do I try to be better?


Am I perfect?

Far from it.

Yet, when people seem inclined point out my failings and the places where I am deficient in life, I always find myself pondering these non-successes with an intensity that borders on merciless. It isn’t long before I start to berate myself, and I begin to focus on all the other shortcomings that I have—all of those things that others know nothing about, and I add them to the list of reasons why I am a complete failure as a person.

This happened recently.

When I awoke this morning I was so distraught that I didn’t feel like going to work. I found myself sinking into the whirlpool of depression and despair as I thought of all the ways in life I hadn’t succeeded, and those ways in which I’ve been a disappointment.

I laid there in bed staring at the ceiling, hardly mustering up the energy to get ready for the day. I thought about school. I thought about calling in ill. After all, one who felt in such dire straits as myself could hardly be expected to go to work and have the energy and vigor expected of a teacher, could they?


I thought of the work that went into preparation for a sub and decided that I’d better get to work; it would be far less work to simply go rather than to prep for the day, and then have to go in and clean up the mess from my day’s absence.

I drug myself out of bed and forced myself to get ready. The impending gloom hung over me as I ventured outside into the chilly morning air. I breathed in the crisp, biting air and it did nothing to help improve my mood.

The drive to work was uneventful, and as I pulled into the parking lot I sat in my car listening to the song playing on the radio, still dwelling on all the ways in life I’ve been a complete failure. I sat there watching the early light drip over the western skyline and closed my eyes.

I walked into the building still shrouded by this cloak of despair.

The hallways were far too long. The days asked too much. The students were far too demanding of me. I simply didn’t have it in me to teach today. I didn’t have the strength to be the teacher they needed—the teacher I should be.

I walked into the classroom, hating those four walls…feeling that they were nothing more than a prison cell. A small room into which I was trapped and would forever be so. I found myself hating that little room.

I turned on the angriest music I had and let it blow through the speaker system as my failures and flaws swirled about me. My desk was a mess. I had a stack of papers to correct. The piles of items screaming to be finished seemed to tower above me like a tsunamic wave.

It was about an hour later that my class arrived. As they flooded into the classroom I put on my ‘excited teacher’ face; however, I simply didn’t feel it…but I pretended to. I acted like everything was great, and the world was a beautiful place.

But in reality, I was simply putting on a show for the masses.

It was about halfway through the day that something funny started to happen…as I worked with this motley crew of ten and eleven year-old kids, something seemed to change. It was as if my focus shifted. All of those things I’d been concentrating on before seemed to melt away, leaving behind a sharper image of all the things I was doing right. I began to see the good that I was contributing to the world. I thought about the successes in my life and all the good things

It was like the sun finally broke though the stormclouds of doubt in my little world. The rays of hope were once-again shining down on my face.

I’ve come to realize that - in reality - life is a funny little thing…it seems that those things we choose to focus on become our reality. They turn themselves into our greatest pains or our finest pleasures. I am so glad that somewhere along the line, my focus and reality were both subject to this change…

Am I a perfect person?


Am I working to become better?


Is tomorrow going to be good day?

Well, I guess that all depends on what I choose as my focus…

photo source:


Shawna said...

Wow. I really needed this one today teach.... and the clip from my favorite movie not only nailed it perfectly, but brought a smile to my face.

We may be our own worst critics, but it doesn't take much for something little, something probably not all that significant from a family member, friend, co-worker or random-stranger-on-the-street to send us into a downward spiral.

I was reading back through some blog posts of mine today and realized I had written down some of these negativities...things that I had forgotten that were, once again, allowed to strike me down. I sat there, esteem swirling down the toilet bowl I suddenly considered my life to be when it occurred to me that I didn't have to accept that. With a few clicks of the mouse, those posts were now gone...and I can walk away from them. In a few days I am sure I won't even remember them; things that were said in a moment of stupidity now to be forgotten forever.

I think too many of us focus on the negative, rather than looking at all of the good we bring into our lives. Your students may not say so, but they would certainly notice your absence. They would notice if you were to stop being the energetic, fun teacher that you are and instead chose to slump in one day and be just another burned-out educator who is too tired to care.

We hear the negative...we think the negative.... but we really don't focus on our good points very often, do we? I think we could all use a few moments to reflect on our blessings...the ones we get as well as the ones we give...

As the song says, its time to accentuate the positive...eliminate the negative.

Sounds like good advice to me.

Heidi said...

That was beautifully written. I am glad your day turned around. Isn't it amazing how kids can get you through the rough times?
I have found myself having many days such as this one you had, over the past several months. Those negative feelings can feel so debilitating. Yet, focusing on the positives, and goodness in life, makes all the difference.
I am sincerely happy you found your sun breaking through those stormclouds! :)
Hang in there, keep smiling, and remember the many things you've accomplished! :)

Carrie Stuart said...

Wow, I can relate so much to your experience. It really is amazing how little it can take to tear us down, or spin us back up, too. It really is about what you choose to embrace. I have learned to never underestimate the ability to be able to help someone in the same situation, even with just a smile or kind word. It can make all the difference for someone who is having a day like you were having...for someone to start seeing the positive again. I'm so glad that you pushed through the despair, and that the kids helped you to turn the corner. =^)

mamahasspoken said...

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.
I live by this saying.
Glad that you were able to get out of the funk you were in. Our students have a tendency to help us with this.

tammy said...

How did you know I was going to wake up feeling depressed and not good enough today? Stupid hormones and self-doubt. Whenever I feel this way, I try to think that I must really be on a path to greatness for the adversary to want to tear me down so. Then I ask myself if I want him to win. It usually helps. That and some shopping.

Great post. I love what you said about what we focusing on becoming our reality. I'm going to have to remember that.

What movie is that clip from?

Kalei's Best Friend said...

U are not alone, I am sure we all go thru what u have.. U are right it all depends on what we do focus on.. I've done my share of rumination.. I did learn one thing from my ex bf . He would always say "tomorrow will be a better day". I use to chuckle when he said it because it somehow use to make me feel as if what I was feeling was being dismissed... Now, I realize that he was right- except his timing of saying it...I am glad my tomorrows have to be better, I know it will be cuz he isn't in it any longer... sounds harsh, but hey, I made that choice and I feel better for it and to me that's what counts.

Pedaling said...

I'm sure many can relate to this post and your feelings. I know I sure can. Our perspective and focus make a big difference, yes. One thing I do the same, is when one thing is not so great or complained about from another...I load a whole bunch of other junk on can be such a depressing burden.
Loved this post. Glad the sun is shining once again.

Rachel said...

I think I told you about this already but one day I was having a tough go of it. Feeling much the same as you. At the end of the day as I knelt in prayer I bemoaned to Heavenly Father that I could never get it right! I did this wrong today, this wrong, this wrong.. I am NEVER GOING TO BE PERFECT!!! And then the thought came to me, how about all of the good and right things I do? Don't those count? Doesn't Heavenly Father keep track of those too? And if so, don't they far out number the oop's I make in a day?

Satan wants us to focus on crap and how much we suck. As the photo you chose says, our failures, sins, addictions,etc. do not define who we are!

Thank goodness!! I know you're heart. I for one, am glad you mustered up the courage to face the day yesterday because I know of a little boy who sat and looked out the window watching for you waiting and waiting and finally after driving me nuts :) and telling him to go and do something else!!! You arrived and made his day all the more better. The rest of us included so.... thank you for putting on your happy face and braving the day.

Thank you for this post. We all have days like this..... None of us are alone..

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

I know from experience that depression is an astonishingly egocentric thing. Going to school and focusing on the kids is the very best thing you can do. For you and for them!

TisforTonya said...

This is so true - and so wonderfully written... too often I allow my daily focus to be what I can't do... instead of what I can do - inevitably the positive focus days end up being productive and by the end of it I feel better physically as well as emotionally.

Jamie said...

Wow! I've heard this type of thinking before, but I guess I really needed to hear it again. Do you participate in "life coaching?" I could us some help! :) Thanks for the post.

Kara said...

Glad to know there are others that put on a face for the masses, and also even better to know that there is a way out of that despair. The way out is through others. By sharing your insecurities you have indeed helped others. You've done one good thing today (and I'm sure more will come) Thanks for the reminder.

Gerb said...

Love that scene & that movie. I think everyone can relate to this feeling. You know what bugs me? Why do people find it necessary to point out others' flaws and imperfections? To make themselves feel better? Wouldn't this world be an awesome place if we could be a support system to each other and just foster kindness and pay each other compliments and lift each other up? I think we would all be much happier.

You rock, T5. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Jamie said...

In addition to my earlier comment:

One of my favorite bands.

Connie said...

"Fail big and stick around!" Great video. We all fail! It's part of the growth process of life. Some failures hurt more than others and it may be OK to take some time and mourn those failures, then get off our butts and keep moving!

I've met you. You're awesome!

Cheeseboy said...

I love how teaching can pick you up when you least expect it.

And I loathe my friends and family that can just call in sick and have no worries at all while it is this huge hassle for me.

Tami Anderson said...

See...I thought that this kind of thing NEVER happened to you. Really. Either you are lying OR you're a really, really good actor. Since I'm pretty sure you aren't a liar, I'm sure the latter is the case. You are always very upbeat and positive when I see you.

Come to think of it...teachers are great actors. Actors who "fake it til ya make it" type of people. Here's a secret...I'm actually glad you shared this. Now I don't feel like such a freak and that I'm all alone in my "teachery" feelings.

una mamma italiana said...

nicely done. As a fellow writer and a MOM - I get that feeling often...wether its writers block or a million loads of laundry, I can become easily overwhelmed and fall into the blah state of near depression! Until, a smile of one of my kids brings me back up. You, as a teacher, know what I mean.

I have been a silent reader for a while now - here and at the Four Perspectives. Thanks for sharing:)

Stef said...

Why do we torture ourselves. I absolutely get that feeling. How can I be the perfect mom for all 5 of my kids and the perfect wife and a good friend..and...and. And it is never enough.
But you are right. We have to choose to look at what we are doing right because we will never be perfect. We can only be our best. We can only give it all we have and be proud of that.

Katria said...

I love that movie! Call it cheesy if you want, but I've also taken to quoting Clair on my really bad days "We are intrepid; we carry on."

Karen M. Peterson said...

This is something I've been pondering lately. Last week, things in one area of my life became almost unbearable. Over the weekend, I came to a realization and was able to return to work on Monday with a much different focus. Because of a simple change in focus, this week was one of the best I've had in a long time.

I hope you're feeling better. I'm sorry that things have been rough. Just know that there are a lot of people who care.

Trevor Holms Petersen said...

You put into words my feelings of so many days! Thank you for not only painting the clouds, but also the sun!

Brett said...

Thank you for writing this Teach. It's so good to know that I'm not alone. I go through so many emotional swings daily that somedays it leaves me wondering if I'm bipolar. Thanks to you and to all of your commentors for letting me know that everyone experiences these types of feelings.

Your post made it clear to me that when I let even the smallest criticism or even a funny look from someone have a negative effect on me, the results to my emotional state of mind can be catastrophic.

Attitude is the most powerful force in the universe.

One thing to think about is the when some is critical of you, in most cases they are actually feeling badly about themselves and redirecting those bad feelings toward you. When someone is critical of you, just say to yourself "I know you are, but what am I?". Using this 3rd grade tactic is much better than letting it ruin your day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience on this. It's another good reminder. It makes me think of that scene in Meet the Robinsons when they celebrate his failure because failure leads to learning, which lends itself to success. Always enjoy reading!

Linn said...

What a fabulous post, Jason. Thank you for sharing--you are a tremendous person!

Teachinfourth said...

Thanks, guys. There are days I think we all have feelings of inadequacy and wonder just why we aren't more than we really are. I just hope we can all remember that we are NOT who we feel we are at one particular moment of our lives.

We are so much more...

Bee said...

If it makes you feel any better, I was struck with the same stinking thinking last week. I too, found my way out, but boy, it's not any fun being in this spot. You are a wonderful person. Try not to be so tough on yourself.

mCat said...

You have put my own feelings into the perfect words.

I am waiting for the sunlight to break through. It'll come, I figure it has too.....just taking it's damn sweet time

Anonymous said...

I just received some news from a doctor that will most likely affect the rest of my future and I feel like part of it is my fault. I'm feeling pretty low today. Thanks for this post.

Sarah said...

(light bulb illuminates)

I can see that when I was feeling low, it was the lack of "working to become better" that got me.

Thanks so much for the fresh perspective.

tiburon said...

I think we all have those days. It takes a strong person to admit it. And I think you are amazingly incredible.

I am lucky to know you!

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