Have you ever thought of one of your character traits and thought (or said outloud), "It's a blessing and a curse." While curse may be too strong of a word, I've thought it many times about myself.
I love my work and sometimes I willingly drown myself in it.
It's a blessing to love your work, but I am easily lured into working too much.
I am creative and always looking for new ideas.
It's a blessing to want to keep learning and growing and changing, but it can wear me out.
I tend to speak up when things aren't right.
It can feel like the pursuit of justice, but it can also feel like an uphill battle I have no right to be fighting.
When you are a speaker-upper, the conversation in your head may go like this:
"This isn't right. I need to speak up."
"Maybe it's just my ego. Who am I to think I'm right?"
"But I can't stay quiet."
"Maybe I should close my door and forget about it."
"Am I just a trouble maker?"
"It's not just me. Others are concerned too."
And that loop is pretty constant during the period of speakingupedness.
Last year I took a year off of being a speaker-upper. I was tired of my own self-righteous drive. I mostly stayed quiet and just did my own thing in my classroom. In many ways it was a relief. Let other people speak up, Jill. You don't have to "fix" everything or speak the "truth" to the powers that be. I needed that year to reflect. I came into this year knowing that I don't have to set things all the time. I came in with a softer stance. Ready to speak up, but not needing too.
A lot of my inquiries truly come from a curious place. I've talked to the superintendent when I didn't understand parts of the 5 year plan. I've spoken with the curriculum director about initiatives I didn't understand. But to keep it real, I've usually had my own "let me show you where you are wrong" agenda. I feel sheepish when I see that in print. It can be a good thing and an unfortunate thing. Sometimes I feel like the Lorax, who speaks for the trees.
In this current phase of speaking up, there are stressful decisions at every turn. And the devil on my shoulder whispers, "Give it up. You're doing this for the wrong reasons. Who do you think you are."
Last week I asked a colleague, "Should I just shut up and sit down?"
She asked me, "Are you doing this for yourself or for the kids?"
Without a pause, I said, "The students. And the teachers."
That helped put things in perspective. I have a gift. When that gift is at work, I can think through things clearly and I work for change. I talk to the powers that be. I make sure I am not only speaking for myself. I stay as positive as possible. I am grateful when people listen and care. I am downhearted when I am not getting anywhere. But sometimes I just know I can't not speak up. Blessing. Curse.
Forgive me if this post is self-indulgent. I just had to think it through and talk it out.
I needed to breathe and this is my place to do that.