Monday, March 26, 2012

Attitude adjustment and fear

It really is about attitude. Last week I had the worst class I have ever had because I got confused about a due date. I had nothing prepared for class because the students were to present their projects. But then some students told me they thought it was due the following week, and when I checked, I forgot that the actual "due date" included time for them to reflect on the presentations. I got confused and also then thought the presentations were really supposed to be the next week... So I found myself confused and completely unprepared for class. I was embarrassed, enraged, and ultimately depressed. But then I realized that I had just encountered one of my greatest fears: public embarrassment and losing control of a class.

My dreams last night helped me realize that I needed to experience that. Fear is powerful. When you are confronted with a fear it makes you feel vulnerable and out of control, which is very uncomfortable. We tend to avoid things that make us uncomfortable. It is also human nature to want to blame these feelings on other people. Last week I felt as though I had been used and was not appreciated, but when I look at the situation objectively I can see that it is an opportunity for me to grow. It was not the students' fault, it was mine.

Apparently I needed this incident to help me see that this assignment is WAY too confusing the way it is written. I will revise it in the future. If the person who created the assignment can't keep it straight, then how the hell can students be expected to understand what is expected?

Also, I needed to be reminded that I am human. When some students rolled their eyes and it was obvious from their body language that they were frustrated, I took it personally. It hurt my feelings and made me both angry and very sad. I knew I had let these people down, and in my position, that is not an "OK" thing to do. The fact that I cared so much about that student's reaction was a huge wake up call that told me that I really DO care what others think of me, or at least of my classes.

As a result of what happened in class, I honestly did reach a point last week where I did not care what ANYONE thought of ANYTHING, and it was a dismal feeling. In the light of my new lessons, I realize I do care what others think, to a certain extent. I do seek some approval and validation that my contributions are worth something. Part of what led me to this conclusion was the dialogue created here on FB when I posted my feelings. I had not intended to have any replies, but the outpouring of support I got really caught my attention. I appreciated being appreciated, and didn't even know I needed that validation. And that, too, is a very human way to feel. And since I am, indeed, having a human experience, I need to allow myself to BE human sometimes. Warts and all, so to speak.

I would honestly rather feel connected and valued, even if that means worrying about what people think of some of my thoughts and actions than to feel resentful and bitter. The trick is to find the balance between independent thought and attitude and interdependent support for and from your fellow humans. So my screw up last week turned into a huge growth spurt for me personally, and most likely professionally.

See? What a difference your attitude can make!