Friday, July 13, 2007

Some Declarations

There are four girls that I have dancing across the stage of my mind as I write today's blog. Easter, Harriet, and Clara, my three daughters, and Marylina. She was in my class for a few months as a fifth grader but I really hope she'll be back in my class as a sixth grader next month. And if she is, I'm sure we'll come to have a strong and lasting bond. She's a book-lover, a skilled mathematician, and a very academically oriented student. An amazing kid whose mom had heard good things about Washington and so decided to trust us with her valuable little treasure.

Lisa, my weirdly supportive sister, calls the dimension of my personality which I am about to perform "total emo-ness". An adequate label, I admit, for my proclivity to constantly self-reflect and get all dramatic about my journeys inward. Whatever. I am what I am. As a result of two such recent journeys, I need to make two more I-am-what-I-am declarations. Which I hope will be kinda like swords that will cut through some layers of negativity and guilt. I'm hoping this deep pruning will free up lots of energy and mental space that can be better spent on Easter, Clara, Harriet, and my students. (I know, she's right, I am sooo emo.)

Okay, here goes. I gained 10 pounds between January and May this year and I've been considering dieting all summer. And then my foot got all sore and so I've been very inactive and postponing it. But I haven't been able to stop thinking about the need for a diet. Then I read this book Rethinking Thin, which totally rejuvenated my fat pride. And so what I want to declare is this: I'm not going to go on a diet. In fact, I am never, for the rest of my life, going to diet. If I say I'm thinking about going on a diet, stop me. Please. Diets are boring, frustrating, and highly ineffective. And there's very little hard scientific evidence that they're even good for your health. When my foot starts feeling better I'd like to get in some exercise, a few times per week. But no more dieting or even thinking about dieting.

Okay, that was hard, but I have momentum so I'm going to finish. My second declaration is that I have abnormally weak "casual" social skills. I hate talking to people on the phone. I hate baby showers. I hate small talk. And I hate parties. I'm not sayin' that I'm not going to ever engage socially with people who aren't my close friends or family. But I am going to stop hating and stop trying to change this particular part of my personality. One thing I've learned from the hundreds of kids I've worked with is that people are packaged in a huge variety of personality types. I'm very accepting of all this variety in kids, and even in other adults. What I want is the gumption to cut myself a little slack and accept the fact that it's almost a physical aversion I have to most "adult" social situations. I can spend the rest of my life dwelling on this as a problem, or I can just say thanks, Dad, for my many inheritances, and accept that this is a permanent part of my psyche. This personality trait of mine made it super hard when my brother and his family moved across the country; filling the gaping hole they left in my social network has been neither quick nor easy for me. And this reality doesn't mean there's something "wrong" with me.

My hopes: that I can learn to better accept my body and my shyness, that this acceptance stretches open my heart, and that with this heart I can continue to love my kids and students well.

And, yes, no matter how much I'm dreading it, I will attend my friend's baby shower tomorrow and I will stay and be social, for a while. But I'm not gonna feel bad if I don't have fun. And as soon as I'm done I will get to see my brother and his wife and their baby girl for the first time since they moved. Which won't only be fun, it will be heaven.


Kari said...

Good for you! I have the same problem with adult group social activities. I am totally introverted and it is hard to not feel like something is "wrong" with me. It is funny that introverted people are encouraged to be more outgoing, but nobody tells an extrovert to be more shy. :)

AMY said...

good point, kari. And thanks for the validation!

s said...

I often notice my social inheritances from dad too. I think something we (you and I) have in common is that we open up easy, like open books. Where did we inherit that?

AMY said...

S: Perhaps it's that we have healthy self-esteems, so we don't mind exposing our vulnerabilities. For me, I know I have a strong craving to feel "understood", so that leads me to share lots. good observation.

Anne said...


Hey, I found your blog when I read Sheena's. I relate well to what you are talking about. Thank you for sharing. It makes me feel better that other, capable and loving women have REAL issues similar to mine.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, I saw your post further down about Atwell's reading workshop, and I need your help!!!! I am going to be teaching reading to 9th graders who read at about a 1st or 2nd grade reading level. I am scared about this. I thought I would go with a strategy approach, but I am questioning this now that I read your post. I am not a huge fan of Atwell in general, but I think her point makes sense. Anyway. I 'd love to get any tips or materials you have on this.