Wed May 15, 2013 somewhere’s around 9:30 or so PM…
So here’s my project. I have 25 pennies in my pocket. I will give one penny away whenever I notice myself doing something to either “look good” to “avoid looking bad” to others.
I kinda have a bit of a preconceived idea what sorts of things/times I fall into wanting to please/not displease others, but I am interested to see what the reality is. Who will get a penny? When? Why? And how long will it take me to get rid of 25 pennies?
Since I likely won’t see any people until tomorrow around 7:00 or so, that is when I shall start my clock.
Thursday May 16, 2013
Day 1–I should have given away one penny this morning, but I didn’t realize it ’till I was talking about my day with a friend whilst walking with a friend this evening. Well, at least I think I should have lost a penny–which means I should have lost it whether I ultimately made the right call or not, right?
I witnessed a teacher giving her keys to a student and telling him to go unlock her door and do whatever it was they were talking about–put his science fair board in the room or something? Idk. But to my understanding giving a student staff keys is a big no-no. A part of me wanted to ask her if she thought giving keys to a student was a good idea, but I didn’t want to make her mad at me. And that’s what I got out of it–I avoided potential unpleasantness. This person has yelled at and belittled me in front of students before and I did not speak up because I didn’t want to risk that happening again–especially not at 7:15 in the morning. Or 7:10. Whenever it was. Would not have ruined my day exactly, cuz I’m a big girl, but it would have made it less pleasant. (Aside–the last time she yelled at me I did speak to her about it later. She apologized sort of, but obviously missed the point and had no understanding of what exactly she had done that had been inappropriate and offensive. So while I was proud of myself for sticking up for myself, it felt like a giant waste of time–so that’s another thing I got out of it. I avoided the annoyance of another frustrating and ultimately pointless confrontation.) And this staff member has been on staff much longer than I have–I still feel like a new kid and I don’t want to rock the boat or challenge more experienced colleagues because… well I’m the new kid. I don’t feel like I have the right yet. Sorta like my voice is less valid/important because it is younger and less experienced. Which is stupid and not based in reality. But it’s how I feel sometimes. A lot of the time, actually. I don’t know if I’m “getting something” out of that so much as it is evidence of those voices in my head that tell me that I am less and not enough and sit down shut up don’t challenge authority.
Question–Where is the line between “looking good” and “being good”? There were a few times today when I questioned whether I was being honest and present in the moment because I hadn’t yet found myself in a situation where I needed to give up a penny yet. And I kept thinking about the choices I was making, and I found that I was doing what I was doing because I thought it was the right thing to be doing and my students’ opinions had nothing to do with any of it.
So now that I think about it, here’s two more that could have gone either way. I left school today shortly after the afterschool programs let out, and ran into two of my kiddos who were hanging out waiting for parents or metro busses or whatever. S and I were in the middle of a conversation when some high school kid neither of us knew interrupted. It soon became obvious that he a) just wanted to be friendly and nice, and b) had not developed the social skills to realize that prolonging the conversation was not entirely appropriate. S was obviously uncomfortable because it was totally awkward, and I chose to engage with the high school kid because it was right to be kind and because I wanted to show S how I as an adult handle situations like that. I also compassionately but firmly ended the conversation after an appropriate amount of small talk had transpired, then I explicitly shared with my kiddo that I thought it was important to be kind, but that it is also okay and important to set boundaries and then we got back to our original conversation. I did this because I wanted to be a good example for her—to show her how to be compassionate and kind—not because I wanted her to think I was awesome but because I wanted her to consider a new way of handling uncomfortable and potentially awkward situations. It was just one of those moments.
Around 5:30 a friend invited me to go on a walk and it was such a beautiful day I could not but joyfully accept. We met at the park and wandered for about two miles just in the neighborhood around here, then ended at school so I could go check out the end of the science fair. AC, AL and W were all hanging out on the grass outside and I went up to say hi. We got to talking about hot cheetos and how gross I think they are. AL said he needed a phone so I let him call his dad from mine. Then we had a bit of a convo about my experiences with my friend Alex and her family who are also Vietnamese and how much I enjoyed learning about her family’s customs and traditions when I was in high school. Which led into a really fun conversation about all the ways you can offend someone without meaning to. I could have been doing this so that my kiddos would like me better and outwardly the entire interactions would have looked exactly the same. But that’s not where I was coming from. I was being my authentic and real self, and was consciously fully present in the way that I am when I am being my best most authentic me.
Bringing God into it, I really believe that I have been blessed with this job here at WMS so that I can love on my kiddos like this. Like it’s part of God’s plan for my life–that I would learn lessons from them, and that they would learn a bit about what it means to be a woman/person of integrity as I am my authentic self before them. Good days and bad days alike. So I do seek out interactions like these ones, and many others today in part because I believe it pleases and glorifies God. But I got it deep inside me a long time ago that “looking good” will not please God, no matter how good that good looks. Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart. So while I was a bit taken aback to see God in the list of persons who get pleased, I get why and I do really appreciate the challenge to examine that part of myself again and see that I’ve not (today at any rate) lost that understanding and acceptance that was so hard to get until it was easy as breathing.
I feel like I’m rambling and no longer writing coherently. So I’ll shut up. For now.