You Have No Idea

On an average day, I wake up between 5:45 and 7:30. Obviously, if I wake up closer to the latter, I freak out and run around my house like a white girl running from a serial killer in a scary movie.

If I wake up in time, I take up residence in the bathroom for about 5-10 minutes, just enough time to brush my teeth, clean my face in some form or fashion, and grab my deodorant.

I let my dog out before feeding and watering him, while I warm up three pieces of turkey bacon if I’m lucky, throw some cereal in a bag if I’m rushed, or leave with nothing if I’m being honest about the majority of my days.

I put my hair up in a bun because I get approximately two spare hours for showering a week… again, if I’m lucky. I throw on an outfit; sometimes something laid out the night before, but mostly just whatever I pull out first that will keep me covered and “work appropriate,” even if I know I wore it last week. I pause for a moment to let my eyes move quickly past the beautiful pieces I own that rarely get to see the light of day and apologize to them silently.

I throw my school supplies and my grad school supplies (yes, they’re different… you’ll see) in my backpack, pack some shitty excuse for a lunch, usually popcorn and yogurt, always forgetting to add at least one or two other items to prevent the starvation that always arrives later in the day.

I drive to work while putting on my makeup. Yes, it’s dangerous as hell, but I don’t have another option. I could go au natural, but I spend my day with halls full of judgmental pricks. Oh, and I have all my students to face, too, and the idea of facing them with adult acne and sunken eyes is just too scary.

I arrive in the parking lot 20-35 minutes later, despite only living 9ish miles away, thanks to traffic. I am normally right on time, but sometimes I am horrifically early or horrifically late. None is really better than the other; there’s never enough time.

Sometimes I have to attend a piece of shit meeting that doesn’t produce anything fruitful; we have them because “they” have always had them, and they don’t know what to do instead. If I do have to attend one of these meetings, I’m behind for the rest of the week.

Meeting or no, I head to my classroom. Sometimes it’s a serene and abandoned place where I can pack as much productivity in as possible. Other times, it is packed with students who need, need, need. And while I love them to bits, sometimes I just don’t have time for all of them at once.

The day begins when the bell rings, no matter what mood I’m in, how much sleep I have or have not gotten, and no matter what is going on in my life. It begins whether I am sick or having a panic attack. It begins whether I’m prepared or not.

I spend the rest of my day acting in 90-minute spurts. I have to act happy, encouraging, knowledgable, capable, indestructible, funny, mean, stern, powerful, sweet, and caring for an audience of somewhere between 19 and 32 people at a time. Some days I get a midday break, while on others I barrel through three classes before a reprieve, thanks to an alternating show schedule.

On special occasions, I get time to leave the stage and have lunch; normally, I am only a seltzer water or Diet Dr. Pepper in until past 4 p.m.

Oh, and when every one of my audience members go home for the day, I stay. I practice and plan and prepare for the next day. I wipe the slate clean, perhaps with tears or sarcasm or angry internal dialogue. I assess and reflect. Sometimes I am almost the last to leave, but I always, always have more to do, even if I’ve left the doors of the building behind.

Some days I must go directly across town, a minimum commute of 30 minutes, to a school to further hone and practice my art… for three hours at least.

Whether I have evening class or not, I do eventually get to come home. Sometimes it’s after a bevy of errands, while other times it is immediate. Most of the time I come home to chaos and a mountain of chores and other to-dos that have not been done in my absence. I let my dog out, even if he’s already relieved himself because he just couldn’t wait on Mom to come home late… again.

I make myself the first substantial meal of the day, therefore often gorging, no matter how healthy the dish. I watch a 22-minute sitcom while I engage in said gorging, wash my dishes, try to get some laundry or other chores done, and attempt to spend a few more moments with my dog. Inevitably, though, I have to stop all of that, no matter how big the clothes mountain beside my door has become.

I start barrelling through papers, of which there are always at least 40 to grade. After that, I start working on my graduate-level homework, ensuring I have at least half of it done.

I pay some online bills, tidy a bit more, and let my dog out again. I talk to my boyfriend, who I love dearly, and almost every day, I tell him how much I hate my life. I realize every time I say this that it sounds like I hate him, but I don’t. I hate the endless work, the dire exhaustion I feel down to my bones. And the only reason he hears this so often from me is because he’s the only one I can talk to about it. The only one who gets working overtime with no extra pay, no extra praise, and utter exhaustion. He’s the only one who understands what it’s like to keep moving in the dredge of something you hate because other people, even people you don’t know or give a single shit about, are counting on you.

I eventually curse myself for not making the best out of a conversation with the person I think is literally the most awesome human being to ever live. I maybe cry, because I’m an ass, but then I return to the final leg of papers to be graded. If it’s Fratursday*, I’ve miraculously finished already and get to shower or go to the gym. *Remember, Fratursday does not exist.

By the time I’m able to hit the hay – though I’ve been ready to since 5:30 p.m. – it’s AT LEAST midnight. Most of the time, it’s closer to one, two, three, three-thirty. On occasion, I will pass out with all the lights on at 7 p.m. and sleep straight through to my morning alarm. It’s a welcome change for about 15 nanoseconds until I realize I am desperately behind… again.

So I wake up between 5:45 and 7:30… again.

I go through the whole cycle, every day, over and over again.

It doesn’t matter how bad I feel. It doesn’t matter how anxious and depressed I am. It doesn’t matter if I feel sick, look like shit, haven’t showered in a week, or had a bad night/morning. It doesn’t matter if I’m underpaid, overworked, or unappreciated. It doesn’t matter if I want it or not.

What matters is the students. What doesn’t matter is the teacher. What doesn’t matter, then, is me.

But I do matter. I do have a life. I have a life filled with struggle. And what’s worse, I have a life full of people who have no idea what it’s like to live this life, and they never will.

You have no idea what it’s like to be a teacher until you are one.

So please, the next time you tell me you “understand,” or you “have hard days, too,” please… with all my love, go fuck yourself in the armpit.

xo

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10 comments

  1. Hi, this is oddly comforting, but I am a middle school teacher (band director actually) and this post describes my daily routine to the T. Minus the grad school coursework and company of a dog, if you substitute flute practice and the company of a guinea pig, truly this is so relatable. Hope your days look up soon.

    1. I know you understand! Like I said, you get it when you’re a teacher! I do realize there are harder or at least similar career paths, but those fields normally get the pay and/or recognition we educators just do not get. I hope your days are amazing — I just have to think of people like you who are out there, understanding 100%! Thanks for your words ❤

      1. Amen. I try to keep constant reminders floating in my head to keep me motivated through the tougher days. You know, trying to inspire the future leaders of America, making a difference, summer break, winter break, teacher discounts, etc. Side note, I really enjoy your blog! I’ve been searching for something new to follow and I stumbled upon yours. Take care!

  2. I see my mom (a 6th and 7th grade science teacher) struggle with this same thing. I want SO BAD to understand, but you are so right that I will never be able to really understand because I don’t experience it every.single.day.24.7.

  3. Honestly, the last paragraph lost me. I get that it totally sucks, but that doesn’t mean other people don’t have shitty schedules, too. One of my dearest friends recently had her brother die, then lost her fiancé and child as a result of relapsing into drug addiction, and is currently locked in a mental ward without privacy of any sort. Other people have serious problems, too. I don’t think it’s right to tell them to go fuck themselves. I apologize if this angers you further, as you appear to have been very bitter and angry when writing this, but it’s the truth. I sincerely hope your schedule improves to a bearable point. Teaching is indeed a hard and often thankless job. But so are many others.

    1. I just typed a reply to this and it disappeared, so I’ll try to wrap it up fast!

      1.) I really wrote this whole entry using dark humor, as has always been my style, but I specifically chose the words I did for the last line (re: armpit) to let people know I was being funny.

      2.) I definitely know there are hard/harder jobs out there aside from teaching. However, teachers are often condescended to as being JUST teachers, despite the fact that our schedules are comparable to physicians.

      3.) As for personal realms, I definitely didn’t mean to imply I had the monopoly on it at all. I didn’t even really mean to touch on it at all, other than to point out the contrast between someone in touch and people (not you, or your friend (hugs), or anyone who’s ever been a friend to me) who have been diminishing and/or condescending to me about my profession.

      I, too, hope you’re not mad! I honestly wanted this to come off as funny, while targeting those people who don’t take teaching seriously. There are many, many people who don’t understand what it’s like, but would still never in a million years say something like some of the folks I’ve encountered in recent conversations. But for the people who DO underestimate educators, I thought they should have a preview of daily life for a teacher.

  4. I think I have SOME idea after reading past your headline…

    You are an ignorant, narcissistic princess with a martyr complex. You must have NO idea how bad this post makes you look. You DARE take the high road of doing it all “for the kids” after endlessness bitching about how much you hate being forced to get up and shuffle out of the house without your turkey bacon so you can go bask in front of your “needy” “audience” (your words; see above you twit). Add a couple rounds of “look how I endanger everyone on the highway with my fashion needs” and “I can’t even be mad at the dog I don’t go and let out to piss between my job and the classes someone is forcing me to take with a gun to my head because I like seeing my pets hurting, ashamed, and ignored” and a grand finale of “fuck you if you think you have problems too, because obviously my self made, millennial-special-snowflake-ow-life-is-hard ones are more important than anything ever”, and I think this post might win Douchiest of the Year.

    1. Okay, I seemed to have hit a nerve with something within you for some reason. You “dare me to post this,” as if I’m ashamed of what you’ve said here, but there’s nothing to hide. Like my post was being honest, so were you. What you’ve said, while I understand it and see how it could be valid, is just not entirely accurate.

      I did write a lot of this in humor. I reread it and can see where it is not necessarily translatable humor, as I can get kind of dark with it. That’s on me, but I try to be up front with my readers about my style.

      It’s strange, you know? I really didn’t write this to make people hurt/angry. I wrote it for people to understand. But instead, it seems to have done the opposite. For example, a lot of the things you pointed out as negatives were things I did indeed use to point out and highlight my flaws, not hide them, as well as the flaws in the educational system.

      I see your points, but it’d be nice if you saw mine, I suppose. I really do love every single one of my kids, and openly admit to them everything I’ve written here, and thank them for being my allies, friends, and for bringing me back every day. They ARE why I do it; I’d change careers if it didn’t mean hurting them. And perhaps when it won’t interrupt their studies, I will.

      The only thing I’m actually perturbed about in your weird attack is the subject of my dog, ’cause you know… he’s a cute animal who I love like a child. But for clarification, he does go out during the day until my roommate has to go to work. I then take over dog duty (for both her dog and mine) in the evening, but sometimes there is a larger lapse than on other days. This is just one example of how you don’t know anything about me, and clearly lack an understand of my writing style. Why don’t you email me and we’ll chat? (imgonndothatgirl@gmail.com)
      You can get to know me, and I can get to know what it is that so grates you about this.

      So one last time: All I want is for people to understand teaching isn’t the fucking “party, man!” a portion of the population insists it must be. It’s far from easy; you can ask an educator my age, or someone who has been teaching 20 years… they will agree, especially if the reign from the same state, which will be lowest in teacher pay within the year.

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