Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bye-Bye Bully

Not all of the lessons I've learned have been helpful, and one lesson in particular has haunted me for years. As I’m starting this blog I feel anxious. I’m worried I’m going to do this all wrong. I know where this cold slippery dread comes from. It’s from a lesson I learned far too well.

In high school I had a teacher who would read up until the first grammatical error and then grade. If the assignment was three pages long, and the first mistake was on the second page, it was an automatic F for not completing the assignment.

If I forgot a semi-colon in the third paragraph, I got an F. If I misspelled a word I got an F. Even if I just used the wrong dash, I got a failing grade. I don’t know what that crazy teacher was trying to teach, but I know what I learned from her.

 I learned that all mistakes, no matter how minor, equal total failure.

This is sad because I love writing. I love communicating my thoughts on paper. The push to write is intense and it keeps me from sleeping. I write down my experiences because if I don’t write them down I’ll forget my life. I write to create snapshots so I can understand where I’ve been. I write to share my discoveries. I write to know what I think, or feel, or imagine. I write from the inside out. When I write I feel totally alive and totally me.

And yet…

There is a nagging fear that accompanies me when I write. It’s the, “You’re doing it wrong,” voice. The strict teacher who graded far too harshly has become my internal editor. Starting a blog this year woke her up. Right now she is sneering at me over her glasses. With a smug little smile, Miss Spite points out my every misatke mistake. When she speaks, I cringe inside.

Everything I write always has to get beyond a sadistic voice in my head. This year I want to unlearn what bullying taught me. So, my New Year’s resolution is this: I am not going to listen to Miss Spite anymore.

Dear Miss Spite,

    I am done listening to you. I am done caring what you think. Since I’m not in your class anymore you don’t get to grade my writing. You bullied me in person. You don’t get to bully me for the rest of my life. I’m taking my pen back. It’s mine. I’m taking it back.

Oh, and by they way Miss Spite, as a teacher, you deserve an F!

Yours Truly,

Who was the worst teacher you ever had? Did a bully ever teach you something you need to forget?

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