Today, she came to visit.
Cynicism sat in the corner, waiting for me. She’s always been there, speaking through well-meaning mentors: “Been there, done that, doesn’t work.”
“Honey, you’re wearing yourself out. You’ll be burnt out before you know it.”
She has always spoken through others, whispering experience-bought platitudes, trying to wear me down.
Lately she’s telling me all kinds of mean and nasty things. She’s been poking her nose in my business more and more often. Worst of all, I’m starting to hear her in my own voice.
“Just sit through that meeting and be quiet. You already know the answer to your questions.”
“Here comes the next instructional push. You’ve seen your fair share; you can outlast this one.”
“You’re not all that – or a bag of chips.”
I’ve always prided myself on being an idealist. I’ve always been an optimist, one who sees the positive side of things with incredible (sometimes irritating, if you ask my colleagues) tenacity. So what does it mean when I feel my own resilience wearing thin? Am I losing my touch? Am I burning out?
I suppose the good news is (see? there I go again, finding those pesky silver linings) that I haven’t resigned myself to it. The thought of losing my idealism still scares me. I still feel compelled to make things right. I still take it as my obligation to advocate for students, teachers, and families.
How else do I know I haven’t lost the spark? I can sit with my students and get goosebumps over fractions. I can lose myself with first graders while we put together a reader’s theater production. I can still ask questions because I know certain questions need to be asked. I can continually re-write and re-tool lesson plans I’ve taught five times already because I know there’s a way of doing it better.
So, Cynicism, I’m not so afraid of you. You may as well come out of the corner say what you’re going to say. I have to admit that some of it contains a grain of truth. Just understand that Optimism still has the louder voice.