I’ve posted on TeachersEducation about my current frustration of caring more about the students than they do.
I feel like, lately, I’m being given a LOT of lessons about what’s mine to own (and to worry about, and to fix) and what isn’t. I understand that this is one of my life’s lessons – it’s something I get whacked upside the head with periodically – but I don’t know how to find the balance point between doing what I can and understanding when to step back.
I think my problem here is twofold. First, I am very invested in doing my best – at least, when it’s really important. Mothering (both my biological and my chosen children), wife-ing and friend-ing (and, yes; I know those aren’t real words, but I’m running on a theme, here, so work with me), teaching; these things matter to me, and I work very hard to make sure that I’m doing the best that I can when I do them. I think that this is why I am so reluctant to “give up” (I put those words in quotation marks because I hate them; the connotation of giving up is almost never a positive one). I think, a lot of the time, I convince myself that the force of my good will – the sheer energy of the love and the intention that I put into these things – should be enough to make them successful.
What I fail to recognize, though – and I know this intellectually, though I clearly have trouble with it emotionally and energetically – is that I’m not the only one IN those relationships. I think where I fall down is when the energy that I’m putting in is not met with energy from those with whom I’m engaged in the transaction.
Second, I am invested in knowing that the people who count on me (whether they’re conscious of counting on me or not) know that they CAN count on me. My history has pretty much demanded that I be a reliable person. It matters to me that I be for others what I didn’t have, and even though I know I shouldn’t, I fear that my stepping back, even when I’m disengaging compassionately, will be interpreted by those from whom I’m stepping back as abandonment. I can’t have that.
So, yet again, I find myself trying to find the balance between doing my job ethically and completely (because this IS about my job right now – everything else feels properly balanced) and finding that those who are the beneficiaries of my work simply don’t give a shit. I had a student today, in fact, tell me – to my face – that it didn’t matter that I sat right next to him and kept an eye on what was on his computer screen; he’d find a way to NOT do the work he knew he was supposed to do. I had a student tell me that there’s really nothing *I* can do to combat the epidemic of apathy in my classes; that neither punishment nor reward would entice the students to meeting me halfway.
I am disheartened.