My mother called me a “Susie Sunshine” when I was younger because I always tried to flip things around to see the good side of them.
If you know me well, you know I have an equally-present “Debbie Downer” side, too.
If I’m in the wrong mood, I see the potential for chaos and failure in every little detail of my day. I stress about the state of the world, my child acting like an a**hole, and whether or not we have the “right” kind of bread for the aforementioned child’s toast. Honest-to-God STRESS. Because who likes rye bread? And why do we f***ing have it?! (deep breath)
I’m assuming this is normal. Go with me on that one.
These last two weeks have been a non-stop roller coaster of light and dark, or “Susie Sunshine” and “Debbie Downer.” Those b*tches will NEVER agree.
Debbie (D): Girl, give up. You can’t do this.
Susie (S): Tomorrow is a new day. I can find a new strategy for those few classes and I’ll be golden! Glittery golden!! (step 1: put the wine down…and then the glitter)
D: Your concert will suck. The kids will hate the music. Face it–you hate it, too.
S: True, but all I have to do is sell it. Have fun with it. Take a deep breath, an–
D: Nope. Not going to work. And you’ll fail in front of hundreds of people.
S: If other people can do this job, so can I. I’ll prove it. I’m smart enough. Right?
D: Other people don’t have crippling anxiety and the stupidity to major in music education when in reality they should be sitting in a science lab, avoiding people at all cost.
S: I’ll win them with my happy-go-lucky attitude. And whatever, at least I’ll look fabulous. I just need more glitter.
D: Your happy-go-lucky attitude is fake. And your shoes don’t match your shirt. And you’re out of glitter. Give up.
And so I did.
I left my job.
I didn’t even last 2 WEEKS. I’m sitting in an empty room, wondering why I couldn’t pull it together. I’m not crazy (though I’m sure that would be kinda fun for a day), but I’m left here baffled by my own inadequacy.
How can I be that inept? How can I be that person? How am I that weak? I don’t feel weak, so why couldn’t I handle this? Is it just anxiety? AND WHY DOES MY KITCHEN SMELL LIKE CILANTRO RIGHT NOW?! What the h*ll is going on in here??
(It’s probably a stink bug. The cilantro smell, that is. I didn’t leave my job because of a stink bug, but if one gets crushed, it’ll smell like cilantro. True story. )
Back to my point and the dumbest question yet: why do I still want to teach music? After all of this, I look back on what I got these kids to do in just a short time and I realize I’m a GOOD TEACHER. I’ll admit: my bar is set pretty low (that’s the key to success right there), but we were doing rhythmic dictation, they knew their note names, they were writing out and performing rhythms for the class, we were having good conversations about listening assignments, I didn’t lose any kids…I didn’t even swear! That’s a big one.
I just couldn’t manage the anxiety, so I fell apart. DAMMIT. Debbie Stupid Downer ruled the show, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t shut her down. Does this mean I can never teach? I honestly don’t know. Do I need anxiety medication? Probably (okay, YES). Does it mean I’m humbled to the point of shutting up for once? Humbled–yes. About to shut up–unfortunately, no. That may never happen.
DAMN DAMN DAMN. I failed AGAIN. I AM SO F***ING TIRED OF FAILING. I’m sick of seeing everyone else move forward and I’m ONCE AGAIN sitting here, wondering what the hell is the matter with me. I failed, and there’s no glamorous way to cover that. And if I tried to cover it with some flimsy excuse, how would I ever learn from it?
The only question I have now is “What’s next?” What is my next step? Do I look for a different teaching job? One closer to home? Do I look for a regular entry-level job? Do I apply to be a team-player at Burger King? I could sing Mozart over the drive-thru speaker. People would just LOVE that, right??
I can’t stay home. It’s like taking the ashes from the still-smoldering wreckage of my short-lived career and using them to bury my future in a lightless, directionless boredom, reeking of the decomposition of lost hopes. In a slightly more cheery way: JUST NO.
Do I stay in music? I love music so much, but the classroom (general music) side…I just don’t know. Do I look for a school choir position? Will I have the same anxiety? Can I possibly ask a blog more questions?
So basically, this failure (that’s ME! 🙂 ) is looking to try AGAIN (someone stop me). Susie Sunshine is back. Except this time, I’m a tiny bit wiser. For example, I (wisely) just considered the following possibility: what if my only problem this whole time was that I didn’t use enough cowbell?
See? I’m on the path to success this time!
Take THAT, cilantro stink bug.
On the bright side: I’m positively GIFTED when it comes to failing. Susie Sunshine would approve. So would Debbie Downer.
Now I’m off to look for a job. I need to. And I’ll close this novel with one of my favorite movie lines of all time (from Cast Away):
“And I know what I have to do now. I’ve got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
3 thoughts on “On the Bright Side (or not)”
Well, since we all have a little bit of Debbie and a little bit of Susie, in that you are completely normal. Perhaps each has become extreme during the last month or so. It would seem that there was a confluence of stressors in that experience, from the bad day with the nanny, and sick kids, a long commute, a school that was not ready for students (or teachers). Given all that, could you maybe be a little more gentle with yourself?
Repeating the f bomb (“failure” that is, which is actually a more potent and damaging word than the other f-bomb) is sure to get Debbie up and dancing on BOTH your shoulders! Start telling yourself the truth. The real, unvarnished truth. You stepped back into being a “working person” in the wrong district.
If you really think you’ve got the chops to teach music, could you maybe be a music substitute…or even volunteer to teach music in a day care center – for kids, elders, even disabled people – locally for awhile?
Susie Sunshine may say, “Everything is going to be alright.” Debbie Downer may say, “Nothing is going to be alright”. But Wise Woman says, “I took a wrong turn. But now I am walking a different path, and looking for my joy again.”
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Aw, Carrie! So sorry THAT job didn’t work out. But I feel it in my achy bones, the right move (job, career, paid activity) will come along and smack you right in the head. YOU CAN DO IT! Keep sniffing it out. By the way, I HATE the name Debbie, so she’s just bad and she’s gonna lose.
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You didn’t fail. The district failed you. They were unprepared, and you were placed in an impossible position because of it. The students have mattered the most to you, and you gave them your best. As for two weeks, I can name music professors who taught students during summer music camps; they made a mighty impact in many lives! You connected = you are successful. It is the school’s loss.
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