If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong. — Masaru Emoto
When I was younger, I had these visions of teaching English – literature specifically – on college campuses with very green lawns, where students lounged, and where I might sit with a cup of coffee on a blanket and feel very much apart of that world. I wore long tweed skirts and taught classes that had my students laughing and running up to me as I walked across campus with great questions about Angela Carter and Salman Rushdie.
I spent a lot of time in those dreams . . . and then I became a full-time professor.
While there were moments of absolutely crystalline joy in those teaching years, mostly, I walked in a state of disappointment. No green lawns – just parking lots. No students lounging – they had jobs to which they needed to go. No long tweed skirts – who can afford that much tweed on a community college professor’s salary? I spent far more time trying to coax my students into caring than I ever did sharing excitement over a new book. Reality was – as is typical – pretty disappointing.
So I quit. [You can read more about that decision here, if you’re interested.]
It was the right decision. And it may be time for some more quitting now.
Yesterday, Andi Miller-Dunn – another book-loving Andi who also has taught community college (what a great thing!) – wrote a wonderful post about how she doesn’t live up to the standards that social media leaves us with – the perfect Pinterest houses, the carefully “curated” images,” the always upbeat attitude . . . and when I read it, I almost cried with relief.
At the end of the piece, she says,
Let’s get real, and let’s get comfortable with giving ourselves a break so we can maintain our integrity and our sanity.
So here I am getting real. I’m disappointed with my business, and since my business is so much of my life, I’m a bit disappointed all around. This morning, someone new unsubscribed from this blog, and I almost cried. I have worked so very hard to build a subscriber list like all the advice says I should, and still I have just over 300 people. . . 300 dear people. . . but I want thousands. I feel like I NEED thousands so that my business will thrive.
But here’s the real kicker – I feel selfish for wanting that.
After all, I make my living as a writer – I have the honor of working with writers every day to reach their goals. I get to edit amazing work. And yet . . . it’s still disappointing. It’s not always “living the dream,” ya know?
Andilit is in a slump – the community I run is dwindling, the editing work is slow in coming – and so I’m in one, too.
Sure, I need to adjust where I put my identity – in a place where I know I am loved. Absolutely, I am blessed with support and means and opportunity. Yes, I have a good life.
Still, I am disappointed with it. And you know what, that’s okay. I really think it is.
If Emoto is right, if the way through is back to me, then I’m here, feet sunk deep in the muddy water . . . reminding myself how to open my petals wide again.
What’s disappointing you today? Feel free to share and know that you won’t be judged or advised by me or anyone else here.