In what areas have you struggled in 2011?
As I mentioned in a previous reverb post, I've struggled with finding my place, with feeling like I'm on the right path. I've struggled to redefine happiness and success for myself. I've struggled in academia.
One of my absolute favorite quotes, one of those words of my heart is "To thine ownself be true" from Shakespeare's Hamlet. I studied Shakespeare at various stages in my life and I know this quote is often misrepresented or taken out of context. I mention it here because I feel like it represents a search to understand who that self is that we should be true to. It's challenging to be loyal to our best interests when we are not sure what they are. This has been part of my struggle, too. I would have said that I know myself pretty well. I'm well aware of my flaws, of the ways I can be too serious, too single-minded. But this year, I've struggled to remember who I am, to remember why I chose this career path, to remember what feeds me creatively.
This year has been a conflicted one. I've felt the highest highs and some terrible lows. I've been miserable and eleated and sometimes I just felt numb.
This quote is a reminder to pay attention, to take care of, to tend to ourselves in order to understand where we spend our time, what we carry and how often we really acknowledge our own happiness or misery. Part of what I want to do this year of tending is to become more aware of my own energy, to do more of what makes me happy.
One thing I discovered at the end of this semester while writing an assignment sheet for my students' last project is that they respond best when I'm being myself. When I write jokes into the assignment or explain things exactly as I would to my friends. When I am relaxed and open, they get it. When I'm uptight and stiff and trying to be something I'm not, it falls flat. One of my best lessons was on vampire mythology and how it transformed over time, as a way to illustrate pop culture's influence. I felt energized and excited and the students remembered the lecture weeks later.
I think struggle is part of the process; it's how we learn and grow and evolve but sometimes it feels so damn hard to just be. I wish I could take life as it comes, relax more, and have more faith that things will work out exactly the way they're meant to. That's the big struggle for me, trusting myself, and my instincts and listening to what they say. I screw up the most when I talk myself out of one thing and into something else or when I don't listen to my own heart.