I was sitting at a student desk, waiting for a meeting to start today, when I announced that I had set up a new blog. My colleagues were interested and even one decided to read it right away. (I felt so special!) Rather than appreciate the blog in its entirety, the others simply asked what it was about. I informed them that I had an awakening, literally, on Sunday morning when I got out of bed and nestled into the couch to watch CBS Sunday Morning with my husband. I had come to the realization that teaching is just “hard”. It takes a lot of work to be good at what you do in anything, and I am not trying to convince others that my profession is more difficult than theirs, but we as educators are taking on more and more with the different (and sometimes difficult) situations our students are facing at home.
The “student and home life” situation will need its own blog entirely! Rather, the comment that caught me off guard is as follows: I was telling my fellow teachers that we have to work very hard in order to be good at what we do. A particular individual responded with “And for what? Where does it get you?” Where does it get me? It doesn’t necessarily transport or move me anywhere in particular, but I began to digest his comment right away and over the next few hours, it "got" me somewhere.
Why do we do anything? Seriously! I mean, why do I run marathons? When you really think about it, why on earth do I torment my body over 26.2 grueling miles in half a day’s time? Why do I spend the time and energy over months and months to train and prepare myself for just 5 hours? Why do I run so hard that I am sore for 3 days and my heel bleeds from running in the rain? Why do I set goals for myself? Why do I get excited when it gets closer and closer to race time, when they shove you into chutes like herds of wild mustangs waiting to be branded? Why do I even bother?
Maybe I’m just a competitor. Maybe I enjoy challenges. Maybe I like the sense of accomplishment. Maybe it’s all or none of these. But, knowing that I tried my hardest and did the best that I could on that particular day, well, I just sleep better. My mind is more at ease, my stress levels drop and I don’t beat myself up for not trying harder. There is nothing heavier than regret – regretting not to say something to someone, regretting not to plan better, regretting not taking advantage of a situation that could make use of your full potential. My college volleyball coach gave me some advice that still sticks with me to this day. I was just having a rough week in practice, and I guess I wasn’t performing up to his standards, so he called me into his office. He sat behind his huge cherry desk and informed me, very nonchalantly, of all of my shortcomings and imperfections on the court. I truthfully don’t even remember him saying anything positive. I sat there for a moment, stunned and trying to think of how I could defend my efforts, so I simply told him that I was trying my best. His response: Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. You know what? He was right.
Sometimes your best isn’t going to be good enough, but at least you have the peace of mind knowing that you tried. I am not sure if that is enough for everyone, regardless of their profession, but it’s good enough for me. I don’t need the mansion, the Benz, the fat bank account and the recognition… I just want to do my best.