Inspired by the quotes, memes, and posts of our peers, educators swam to the harrowing deep end of the ocean and back to the shore. As we finished the school year in 2021 with one final stroke, a deep, soulful exhale floated out of our listless bodies into the thick, summer air. Although the heat blazed upon our shoulders as we start to climb out of the shallow end, we slowly found the edge and walked to safety on the shore. Motivation from our colleagues maintained our sanity during the school year and allowed us to take life day-by-day. Each evening after work, we squeezed every drop out from our inner reserves as we collapsed into bed. And, somehow, still found more to give the next day. Even though the hope we garnered from each other sustained our sanity, most still feel depleted despite soaking in the summer sun. In essence, genuine joy requires deep excavation not cheerleading. Digging down far beneath the surface allows for the buried valuable triggers to be unearthed and healed.
Get your hands dirty
Although I welcome positivity, I also recognize that toxic positivity equals in potency to the harmful haze of negativity. Putting on brave faces, many educators rallied last school year to lift each other up, even though they only ran on fumes. Giving so generously to others tops the list of gifts educators bring to the table. If there is only one drop left in a cup, educators will share it. Consequently, educators often give at their own expense rather than shoulder the guilt of not overgiving. Thus, if you are giving with resentment, your lack of authenticity will emerge. Genuine joy requires deep excavation to ascertain the reasons you overgive. Without a deep dive, your wounds will deepen.
When the well is bone dry, educators often hide the dearth, much at our own expense. Out of habit, we learn to swallow with a parched thirst and learn to replace a grimace with a smile. This process often causes us to live in the land of disingenuous and pushes our true feelings further down south, which ultimately harms us.
In order to break the cycle, you must commit to getting dirt under your fingernails and clawing deep down to find your own authentic truth. If you continue to repress your true feelings, they will eventually erupt anyway without warning. Read more about hidden, emotional landmines here: https://tracinicolesmith.com/stepped-on-emotional-landmines/
Get to the bottom
Because we work in a community setting with the general public, the likelihood of meeting someone who triggers a wound inside of you increases exponentially. If you are unhealed, your reactions vary and may be severe. At times, some responses mirror the response of a temperamental child, which is damaging to the personal and professional selves. Whether or not you desire to be a role model, if you are a teacher, you are one. Families often rely upon teachers for their wisdom and strength and look to educators for guidance.
Consequently, parents harbor their own personal hardships from their educational experiences. By the time you have met them, they may have experienced many challenges with their own children that have worsened due their own unhealed experiences. The possibilities for difficulties in school greatly surge as students age.
Not reaching the bottom of your own pain and resolving it, more than likely, the educator’s unhealed, egoic self will clash with peers, parents, or even students. This conflict causes immense friction and tension at work. Therefore, an obligation lands upon you to heal. In a position of great influence, the onus falls on us to stand strong. Read more about the professional duties of an educator here: https://www.deseret.com/2017/11/7/20622748/op-ed-what-are-the-professional-responsibilities-of-teachers
Get free and clear for your own peace
Separate and apart from your professional aura, healing your deep, inner pain evolves as the essential duty as an adult. Most of us had no control over our lives as children. Whether we had charmed childhoods or lived a living hell, the main issue we harbor from childhood remains the lack of control we had to change our external circumstances.
Now, we are adults and have accepted the ultimate mentoring position in society as the shaper of the future generation. We owe our students our best selves, but we also owe it to ourselves. To live our best life, we must liberate ourselves from the pain we carry. If we want to embody equanimity, we must be mindful that genuine joy requires deep excavation.
Dig in or you will dig yourself deeper down the black hole and be stuck in the past.