4. Most Afraid Of
I feel like this would be a substantially shorter answer if I were to talk about what I wasn’t afraid of. I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t have fear buzzing like low-level static in the back of my brain.
I’ll try to separate these into hierarchical categories to streamline things.
Things I Can’t Control: the coronoavirus; war; the election; climate change; people’s perception of me/my worth as a human being/my likability; my son getting hurt (physically or emotionally); my son growing up and apart from me; dying; my parents dying; my husband dying; literally anyone and everyone I’m close to dying; losing my job; losing financial stability; car accidents; being robbed; hurricanes; carbon monoxide poisoning; gas explosions
Things I Can Control (But Feel Like I Can’t): Having a blood-pressure induced stroke; my health; that I’m an inattentive parent; my house falling into disrepair; my friends losing interest over my lack of social awareness; never following through and completing any of my goals; missing out on opportunities.
Petty phobias: Dentists, heights, needles, butterflies, moths, birds.
To paraphrase a comic strip (that I really should find): “Pfft, ‘get out of my comfort zone?’ I don’t even have a comfort zone. I am literally always uncomfortable.”
I got an email last night from a former student, class of 2017, reporting in on how his life is going and inquiring about mine. Because of the nature of the program I work, he is technically still in my system, so I have to temper everything I tell him through the lens of, yes, he’s an adult but I’m still technically a teacher (so I can be casual, but not too buddy-buddy), but man, and I thrilled about what he told me. It sounds like he’s doing so well, and it makes me so happy.
I never kept in contact with any of my teachers from high school; granted, immediately post-high school, it was a little harder, because social media wasn’t a thing and wouldn’t be a thing for several more years, but even since then, I know some of my friends Friended old teachers; I did not. I just… I never had that kind of relationship with my teachers. I think about that a lot, actually; my relationships with teachers could be described basically as, “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Are Nice and Say Nice Things About Me,” “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Are Insanely Hot and I am a Horned-Up Teenager,” “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Terrify Me and I Want to Escape Their Wrath,” and “I Hate Them (But I Really Want to Please Them Anyway Because I am an Insecure Teenager Seeking Constant Validation.”
I was never “close” with them. We didn’t shoot the shit between classes; I didn’t go to them when I was in an emotional crisis; I didn’t share personal victories with them, or gush about TV shows with them, or share in-jokes. But I do all of that with my kids, because I wished, so hard, as a kid, that I’d had someone to do that with me. I would have killed to have one adult give a shit about the crippling anxiety attacks that made me miss days of school, or didn’t roll their eyes behind my back at my dorky interests (and think, somehow, that I didn’t know they were doing it). I’m not saying my teachers were bad; most of them were kind, and fair. I’m sure they had close relationships with other students; hell, I know they did. It was just never me. I never really had anyone like that.
So I try to be that person now. For someone else.
I set an alarm for tomorrow, to write him back (because social obligations are hard, and I have zero energy the last two night). I’m glad that he apparently thinks of my as One of Those People.
Unrelated, but I looked at the calendar today and felt a jolt. Back when I first started teaching I had what you would call A Hard Kid, who I adored, who I still remember as just… having a special place in the pantheon of students I’ve worked with over the years. And I realized that today he turned 31 years old. Jesus Christ. My husband is 33.
Starting teaching so young messes you up, guys.
It’s Wednesday!! I’ve got some really cool plans and goals I want to tell you all about really soon, but for tonight, I will be hanging out in chat with my mom and sister, and then it’s tea, some magazines, and bed. Sprint, guys! We’re almost at the finish line.