A blackened tooth from a decade-old basketball injury.
An average of four hours of sleep a night.
A tumultuous set of faculty meetings, in meetings, out meetings, and every other type of meeting in between.
An early bus I missed, followed by a late train that took 15 minutes off my preparation time.
A snide remark by colleagues.
A set of bills ankle-deep tightening the noose ’round my neck.
A few uncompleted projects.
And a sense that perhaps I didn’t teach every child in my class the best I possibly could.
Friday gave me a plethora of reasons to not want to smile. Earning my Fridays with a full schedule of getting kids to work, adults to listen to more than the sounds of their own voices, and the world to give me a 15-minute break just didn’t seem worth it, really.
Yet, when the last bell sounded, my skin still glowed from another set of lessons for the week, a glossy grunge only visible to those who do this teaching thing the way we do. When passion emanates from our pores and after negotiating our professional duties and personal dedication to social justice, I crank up the music just loud enough to hear from a five-classroom radius.
I could have scurried along with everyone else at 2:20pm, but I sat in this glow, coming to a few realizations:
- It’s OK for me to smile every once in a while, even when this going gets too tough.
- It’s OK to shock if it makes people readjust their chairs.
- (As a corollary to #2) It’s OK for me to be more honest, especially when I no longer have a title.
We trust that life will continue to teach us these lessons, punching away at our contradictions, reminding us of things we thought we’d conquered before. Yet, if there’s anything I learned, it’s that the glow I acquired the previous Friday becomes the alloy in my bones for the week after. It keeps us invigorated when we can only contemplate growing broader shoulders for our burdens.
When it’s said we don’t have a leg to stand on, we show them four. When they say our resolutions are baseless, we show them a concrete foundation. When it’s said they can’t understand what we’re getting at, we wait until they get it. We have every right to be who we are, and be a better person for withering the torments that want us to be otherwise.