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Monday, November 30, 2015

Do you think before you speak?

Do you think before you speak?

I've always had a knack for over-analyzing words and actions -- particularly concerning the most minor of negative experiences. I'm ashamed to admit the hours I've spent replaying every complaint, eye roll, and piece of criticism I've been doled. Typically I expel negativity by a) venting to Tyler or b) journaling and then feeling lousy that I have a waist-high, leather-bound stack of twenty years of social anxiety. Needless to say, I'm not so thrilled with the results of these methods.

The first issue is that after being away from the high school classroom, I forgot just how talented I am at putting my foot in my mouth. Because of the nature of the job, I tend to have to think on my feet, and therefore I oftentimes wind up saying something stupid or something that could be misconstrued.

In these awkward situations, I breeze right past the chuckles and move on -- no problem. But what about those midnight realizations when I realize that have said something that has upset or offended a student? What about that sinking feeling when I've assigned an essay and I'm almost certain I forgot talk to them about conclusion paragraph structure? Or when I'm grading and start questioning the accuracy of my scoring? I taught them the difference between mood and tone, but did they actually learn? These are the silly work questions and doubts I obsess over, but with my job ending and our move coming up, I've graduated to the big worry: 

What am I doing with my life?

Spring Break 2014

When I'm feeling paralyzed with self-doubt, I feel better when I remember a piece of advice from A Cup of Jo. Here is how she describes the "Grand Canyon" trick:

"Picture that the Grand Canyon is your life--your past, present and future. Start envisioning the various parts of your life within the canyon: Over there is the day you were born, your third-grade choir performance, your job as a babysitter. Picture your present: There's your apartment, your friends, your mom, the book you're reading right now. Picture your future: There's your next vacation, the love of your life, your future children, the Top Chef finale. :) 

Now, my therapist told me, picture the enormous Grand Canyon and drop your worry into it. Whatever you're worrying about -- your cranky boss, your dating life, a salty comment from a friend -- will be barely visible. "See how tiny it looks?" she says. Suddenly your problem will seem much, much smaller in comparison to the grand course of your huge, rich, long life."

So, I pass along the Grand Canyon trick to you, in hopes that you find yourself with only rare occasion to need it. Happy November!

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