The first time I remember someone telling me they thought I was a bitch (well, to my face, anyway) was senior year in high school. To be fair, Nikki said, “Freshman year I thought you were a bitch, but then I just realized you were super shy.” Interesting, because when I was little my brother used to be worried that I would be kidnapped because I would literally talk to anyone. I don’t really know when or what changed that. I was always a little Pollyanna, Susie sunshine. Towards the end of high school my friends were definitely more of the sarcastic vein and I picked it up, too. College was very intimidating and I think snark became a shield.
Over the last few years I’ve been repeatedly accused of having a bad attitude. People at work constantly told me how sarcastic I was, and they used it as a criticism. I think that what they never saw was that deep inside I still was that little pollyanna/ Susie sunshine with a really good heart and a desire just to do right by people. But I think in any social group – including a school staff (especially a tiny one) – I think people are assigned roles. There are the leaders, the softies, the strict ones, the kiss-ups. Well, at some point, my role became the bitch. And hey – like any good actress, I guess I played the role. If people are going to criticize you, you may as well play it up, right? My snarkiness and self-deprecation were my weapons of choice. Hey – way easier to put yourself down or make a snide comment than have someone do it to you, right? Now don’t get me wrong – my students knew I loved them to pieces – this was outside of their realm.
Last summer Mattie rightly called me out. He said that I was so different in person than on twitter. On twitter I will interact with anyone and am full of sass. In person, well, I’m still that super shy girl that Nikki thought was a bitch. The thing is, though, my tweeps have changed me for the better. With them, I feel more like myself – the old me. They make me feel hope again and they make me feel valued. They’ve changed my life. They are helping me break down the barriers that I built up around myself.
So why the diatribe? Today I walked into the faculty room and the music teacher told me that she had been talking to one of the former teachers from the school and was telling her just how much enthusiasm I have for what I do. She said she told her what a nice addition I’ve been to the school and how everyone is so impressed by how I go above and beyond to learn and collaborate with people. (I appreciated this because sometimes when I bring up my online stuff or conferences I worry I give off an air of “look at me, I’m so fancy.”) Later in the day, a sub who retired last year from the school and who has subbed for me twice this year said kind of a similar thing. She said it was so nice to have such a breath of fresh air brought in. I can’t tell you what these comments meant to me. The thing is, I know that in changing environments, I’ve started to get back to the old me. I mean, the shyness hasn’t really gone away in normal circumstances and I’m still intimidated by, well, everyone. But I know that there has been a change in my heart. I mean, I’ll never NOT be sassy and snarky. But I feel like the edge is gone. I notice it just in my daily interactions with the people at Target or a take out place. I dreamed last year of escape. This year there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t woken up happy to go to school. I smile more. It’s a good thing. It’s really interesting the effect that environment has on you, don’t you think? Surely there is a conversation here about which roles do we assign our students, but that’s not for now.
So ya… my #onegoodthing today is having people around me who appreciate me, let me be me, and stop giving me a role I don’t want to be playing.