A three-parter! Here we go. I wouldn’t have guessed having started this series that it would’ve ended up so much longer than initially anticipated.
Writing is a liberating hobby. You are always expelling some kind of demon from within you for someone else’s personal enjoyment. I think back to all the memoir writers I’ve learned about, who must’ve tormented themselves over their writing to perfect the story as it happened, while also creating a unique, memorable narrative at the same time. It’s not easy to say you’re a writer without others immediately asking you what that means, and what kind of writing you do. How can you answer that question with “personal writing” without feeling a bit selfish and self-important, as if your life is worth writing about in the first place? I wouldn’t say I’m living an especially significant life, just a normal one in the 21st century. I wouldn’t even say my story is a story that needs to be told; I don’t know who would really benefit from hearing another white, middle-class, coming-of-age story. But the reason I write is not necessarily just so that I can be read by others; the real reason I write is because it fulfills my professional goals and makes me feel productive. It makes me feel like I’m keeping track of myself, my history, and the world I live in, even while I slowly but surely lose track of it, bit by bit. I used to write frequently, and I want to keep that part of myself going, most of all. I don’t want to abandon it, so here we are, writing about personal lives because it’s often easiest to write about yourself.
In college, I wrote a conceptual metaphor paper on how teaching is performing an exorcism, every day. Imagine how exhausting it must be to exorcise demons from your classroom on a regular basis.
Last time, I spoke about the technique that goes into writing fiction, as well as the general rules that I follow (or try to follow, unsuccessfully) because of my difficulties when it comes to paying attention. Having ADD makes writing an interesting hobby, allowing on the one hand for my mind to drift and visit whatever worlds it needs to in order to fulfill my imaginative vision, while on the other hand enabling a lack of focus and attention on the important details. (Is “enabling” the correct word for that? I’m not so sure.)
Regardless, I wanted to talk more about this subject. This is the first time I’m doing a two-part blog post without having written them back-to-back. As in, I’m writing these on separate days. To think it took me 309 posts before I realized I could do this.
The best technique that I’ve personally employed is writing wherever possible, whenever inspiration strikes me. Sometimes while at work, when I have a little bit of down time and can afford a few minutes of personal leisure, I turn on the computer, open up my Google Docs folder, and expel all the ideas taking up space in my head onto the page. It’s a useful and helpful habit to build upon, because the way my brain works necessitates a kind of urgency when it comes to ideas entering it. Being able to write freely helps so much, and without it, I’m not sure I’d be able to trust that the story I come up with is natural and faithful to whatever vision I have for it. Being faithful is essential, as I would hate to read a story that’s not an accurate representation of what the author wanted it to be. Writing is all about representing things, and authors are represented from their stories in great detail.
Being distracted is easy. I’m distracted right now, as I’ve decided to spend time writing personal blogs rather than doing something productive, like preparing for tomorrow’s day of work. Distractions are nice, though; productivity isn’t everything, and you have to balance your workload with fun in order to survive. No one wants to live a life of complete work forever, otherwise what are you living for? Just to wake up, work, and come home too exhausted to enjoy your free time, only to fall asleep again and repeat the cycle? There’s so much to life and living: places to see, travels to undertake, people to enjoy the company of.
Distractions are everything, which is why I decided to write about them today. It’s not enough to just live plainly. But being distracted is often considered a weakness or a struggle to overcome, a deficiency. As someone living with ADD, my attention wavers depending on the subject. It’s hard to stay focused when your mind is thinking of other things and wants you to move with it. I’ve lived with this deficiency for years, and even with the help and support of my primary physician, you still feel the same feelings, just with a reduced potency. The lack of focus persists. I hyperfixate on small things and interests that stick out to me, and my mind never seems to be able to focus for very long if it’s not so fixated.
I’m not complaining, though. All of this is what makes me who I am. I’m not sure I would be the same person without my ADD. And like I said at the beginning, being distracted makes life worth living. So I’m not bummed or anything by the cards I was dealt. If anything, I’m grateful for being able to have such a unique living experience.
No, this won’t be about pets.
Today, I observed a class during a first-year teacher’s third day of teaching. The class went mostly well, and the teacher handled some behavior disruptions in a clear, consistent way to demonstrate their authority over the classroom. But the experience almost gave me a sense of deja vu, and I felt uneasy afterwards. I saw the same faces behind the same students, the same intentions behind the same words, the same excuses and mistakes and enthusiasm and energy.
It reminded me of my own failings, and afterwards, while talking with the teacher about our shared frustrations, I felt real empathy for one of my coworkers. I wanted this teacher to feel respected and heard while also feeling like they are allowed to vent around me. One of my biggest frustrations with teaching during my first year was the lack of coworkers I felt comfortable talking with. I constantly felt on edge and like I was being watched for every thing I did, while also not feeling like my decisions were respected. I want this teacher to not have the same experience I had, essentially. I feel overly protective of other teachers, especially those who are still learning and need maybe a little guidance along the way, because I don’t want history to repeat itself in their shoes. It would make me feel miserable to have to watch that unfold again.
No one ever said this job was easy, but no one ever told me I’d sometimes lose my sanity and sleep over it, and that it would consume my mental health.
The first year is the hardest of years, and it’s so much harder when your coworkers aren’t supporting you along the way. It’s even harder when you feel like you need to support them more than they are supporting you.
Do you ever feel trapped? Like you’re given to a certain lifestyle for the rest of your life, and there isn’t much you can do about it? Like no matter how hard you try, you’re stuck in a perpetual motion of repeating previous actions from the beginning of your life until your death?
I know that sounds morbid and all, but sometimes I think about what life will be like in ten years, twenty years, thirty or more, and then I remember that life is something we take for granted, that no one is guaranteed to survive forever. An accident can happen, or something totally unexpected. I’d be hesitant to ever say that I know what the next ten years will be like.
I remember being 14, a freshman or sophomore in high school, and barely able to fathom my future at all. I was either a lazy procrastinator, or someone who was punching above his weight in honors classes, trying to fit in among the intellectuals of our grade level. I desperately wanted to be accepted by them, and then at the end of my senior year, in preparation for the senior prom, I remember the ultimate rejection I and other friends faced by certain members of that group. And I remember that so clearly because it serves as an example not to put your trust in others blindly, and to never have your emotional well-being hinge on the feelings of others.
But not all lessons are adhered to easily. Sometimes they take time, but other times they never improve at all. That’s what I mean about feeling trapped, like a hamster in a hamster wheel. That everything has been decided for me by this point, and I don’t have many big decisions left to make. Perhaps I’m over-exaggerating, but sometimes that’s all you can think about, and there’s nothing you can do about it except let those thoughts consume you.
When I was younger, I used to write in a physical journal, and I carried it everywhere with me. (Have I told this story before? Inevitably, I’m going to repeat myself; not like anyone’s keeping track, but still…)
As someone with low self-esteem and a predisposition towards telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth, my whole life has revolved around pleasing others. But writing is one of my few remaining solitary activities. It’s something I can return to and rediscover my true self and feelings, without reservation. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I truly like something or if I’m just saying I like something to please another person; while writing, I am honest to the only person who consistently reads my writing: myself. Self-esteem doesn’t play a role in my treatment. Everyone deserves the opportunity to discover their voice and allow it to be heard, and a lot has been on my mind lately regarding what I want to do with my life. At age 24, it’s hard not to think of all the ways in which I’ve slowly lost control over things I used to have under control. Appointments, daily routines, large-scale ambitions. Inevitably, all of these things fall apart over time, but I never expected it to be so sudden and apparent to myself.
But that’s a topic for another blog post. Today, I want to solely discuss the act of writing, or keeping a daily journal, as it allows me to flesh out my thoughts in ways I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. In my journals, I am forced to stay consistent with my own thinking, and I don’t allow other voices to intrude on what I ought to write about. The only person I owe anything to with these blog posts is, ultimately, myself, and hopefully that doesn’t come off as selfish to others.
This blog post is a continuation of a previous blog post, so if you haven’t read that one, you may want to go back and do that first.
Most importantly, there’s joy in being able to share in online experiences with other people. I’m happy to share details about myself, though I wish I were more talented in the ways of art or drawing or video editing, so that I could be of a better use to the fandoms that I claim membership of. I’ve recently started talking with more people on Twitter who are part of the Persona fandom, and it’s been fantastic thus far. We may even play some Monster Hunter: World together sometime in the future. I look forward to whatever that has in store. It’s exciting to think about.
Twitter is there for cultivating friendships, and I’m thankful for its existence in that respect. I don’t know where I’d be without some of the friends I’ve made on that site.
Using Twitter, though, is like staring into the abyss; you never quite know what you’ll find inside it, but you’re interested enough to stare into that black mass anyway. You look because you’re bored, or craving some kind of excitement or news or something. You want to be thrilled again. Having a Twitter in and of itself is great for networking and communication, but not always there for professional purposes, as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t used my professional teacher account very much so far. I think that the main purpose of the site is to keep yourself occupied while you want to be occupied by it; if you aren’t interested in what Twitter has to offer, it’s pointless. But the catch is that you cultivate the feed yourself, so you create whatever the site has to offer, if that makes any sense. It’s a conundrum.
Having a Twitter is, in some ways, a blessing and a curse. It provides you with endless entertainment, memes, news, or whatever you really want to fill your feed with, but on the other hand, it can be a deadly distraction. You might be tempted to keep scrolling through your Twitter feed even while new tweets keep coming up, and you might be tempted to wait and see how your group chat feels about the recent news. I’ve already written about how wonderful it is to have a group chat available with friends from all types of backgrounds and interests and hobbies, but today I want to focus more specifically on what having a Twitter feels like, how it affects the day-to-day.
On a given day, I probably check my various Twitter accounts at least three or four times, some accounts more than others. It depends on what I post and whether it’s attracting any attention, too. Sometimes, if people are responding more to my tweets, then that means I’ll be on the app more than usual. I don’t frequently check my teacher account because I don’t frequently post there, but on my hobby account and my private account, I post much more often. I have made and met some friends there already, reminding me of what it was like to do so years ago, during my senior year of undergrad, when I first met the friends that would later form the group chat I have. I look forward to potentially having more group chats to share in, and I look forward to meeting new people online.
As a teenager, I made lots of friends online, so I feel familiar with this whole process. But it’s still a bit nerve-wracking at first, not really knowing anyone who you’re talking to really.
Returning to school after a long summer vacation has always been cause for anxiety. It’s the start of a new school year, but it’s also the start of a new, much longer routine system to resume. Over the summer, I develop new, more free habits and routines, related to sleeping, daily time spending, and clothing. I’m not always dressed in business casual at home, I get to spend time doing whatever I want, and I can wake up at a more reasonable hour. These differences are crucial, making the summer vacation truly memorable and worth celebrating.
Being someone whose whole life has been centered around the American school schedule, it’s hard to break the chains of tradition. I’m inexplicably tied to the school routines I had as a child. Wake up early in the morning, go to a high-stakes place of learning for some hours, then return home late in the afternoon and do it all again the next day, barring weekends. Octobers and Marches are long months without as many days off, and June is the fastest month by far. You learn to cherish December, for its long vacation in the middle of the year, as well as the holidays, of course. But you are forever tied to these feelings and traditions of how the year progresses. Normal adults, who don’t work in the school system, like Alex, work year-round and have vacation time on their own terms, and things like that. They don’t have the luxury of a summer break, but they’re also not still tied as adults to the summer’s joyful freedom as they were as kids. In some ways, I envy them. When I was unemployed in 2018, it felt like I was still reliving the school schedule, even through November and December. It was impossible to escape.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling mighty adventurous, I stay up exceptionally late. It’s one of those things I remember doing in college that brings me back to my college years, like looking at pictures or old keychains and feeling nostalgic about a time gone by. When I stay up super late, it’s not because I particularly want to; it’s because I just don’t want whatever is currently happening to ever have to end. I like staying in a constant state of “never knowing when this party will stop.” Sometimes that party is solo, sometimes that party involves lots of people. Either circumstance, the party should never end, and I feel obligated to keep it going because the rest of life isn’t as fun as this.
Sometimes anxiety plays a role, too. It’s not every day I feel like dropping everything and readjusting my sleep schedule to fit that of a hermit with no social skills. Sometimes it just so happens to end up that way by a matter of chance and nothing else.
Is it weird for a 24-year-old to still be experiencing these issues? Should they even be called issues at this point? I’d like to think I’m not alone, but also, does being alone really matter any more? I think I concern myself sometimes with what other people would think of my actions, to the point where I let them define who I am and what I decide to do. Being a teacher, it’s hard not to make yourself malleable, flexible, and adaptable to everything a student says; it’s part of your job to be all of those things, to answer the call of duty whenever it appears, to help those in need. That’s part of our calling. It’s what makes us teachers. Is there any wonder then why teaching became such a difficult profession for me to uphold?