Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Blessings of Former Students

Friends, this last month has been a lot. Heck, this school year has been a lot. I mean, my students are amazing. I work with fabulous colleagues and administrators. My community is one of my favorite places. That being said, phew, this year.

Here’s the thing, when teachers say it’s a lot right now, it’s hard to pinpoint why it’s a lot. I mean, off the top of my head, this is what is running through my brain:

  • The last normal year of school for my seventh graders was fourth grade.

  • We’re teaching kids that didn’t have a typical start to middle school, so they’re lacking a lot of knowledge of being in a building like this.

  • Mental health - for my students and their families - is a struggle.

  • We’ve added new curriculums in my building. It’s important stuff and I wouldn’t want to get rid of it, but it’s more on our plate. 

  • My oldest is in his first year of college.

  • My youngest is a Junior.

    • In Band

    • In Cross Country, but with a broken big toe.

  • I published one book last week and three more to be published in the next nine weeks. (I’ve been writing them all for over the past three years.)

  • We’re in a pandemic. I feel like this might deserve its own blog post. But to be in a pandemic when you have an autoimmune disease that makes you far more susceptible to some pretty shitty outcomes from said pandemic while so many folks decry anyone who is still taking the pandemic seriously, or ever took it seriously, is hard.

    • Like a never-ending-anxeity-spiral-of-piercing-loneliness feeling. Seriously. There are days I just want to move to my own island and call it good, wave the white flag, I get you don’t want me here, kind of days.

  • While all of that is negative junk, I’m a pretty positive person. I believe a positive outlook and attitude is catching, just as a negative one is. So I’m working hard to be positive while it feels like I’m drowning in negativity everywhere I turn.

And I was doing so good with my positive outlook until I mistakenly (swear, it was an accident) read some reviews of my book the other day on Goodreads. I’d seen the Amazon reviews because I was looking for what keywords were being used. (Long story, marketing.) I went to Goodreads to see if they had something like that and noticed a review that said, “dnf.” For those of you for whom that doesn’t make sense, dnf means “did not finish.” 


Arrow to the heart. 

And here’s the thing. I read about 400 books a year. That’s more than a few. I see reviews all the time for books that I love and people dnf those books. I think they’ve clearly read a different book than I did and move on. 

But when it’s your own book? Oh boy.

So, I dusted myself off, shed a tear because I haven’t developed enough of a thick skin yet, and moved on.

Wednesday I posted this on Facebook:

I wasn’t really expecting any comments about the review, it’s just where my brain was and I posted. Quickly, I got a message from a former student. She must be around twenty now, I taught her a decade ago. Her note said that she was reading my book and loved it, that it in fact had inspired her to pick up a long ago story she had and she was writing again.

My heart melted.

My book isn’t for kids, thus the pen name. My current students know I’m writing under a different name, but also know that they aren’t my target audience, which is why I haven’t shared my pen name or books with them. My former students that are out of high school have found their way to my writing accounts. Several have sent me messages cheering for me. Many are reading the book.

And that love, that’s a lot.

So on days like yesterday and today when the world feels like a bit too much, I’ll look to my students - current and former. They know me, the real me. They remind me of why I’m doing all of this. And they lift me up when I’m feeling down.

They give me the energy to try again another day and for that, I’m beyond grateful.

Wishing you all well on this year that has been a lot.