Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kelly Marie Teaches

There is a bit of madness in trying to flesh out who we really are. I have always tended to feel a sense of urgency to have words on hand to let people know who I am. As if the ability to string together the perfect strand of words would somehow be enough for others to know who I was and what I was about. And yet, those labels I have tried on have not all fit flawlessly, like sweaters made for perfectly trim mannequins those labels have either felt uncomfortably snug here or oddly baggy there, never a perfect fit. 

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the label "DANCER" because that is what I truly wished to be. But the problem was, I was not quite a dancer in the way the world thought of dancers. I was not thin. I did not spend hours upon hours in the studio. I often quit my day's dancing before my toes were a mess of blisters and blood, and I could never give up sugar when my directors and coaches challenged me to. The label--like most others--was not quite fitting. The label was a product of something I did, something I aspired to, something I enjoyed, but it was not by any means who I was. 

Then I thought maybe who I was could be based on how I often felt, but that did not sit right either. If anything it was much more uncomfortable; it was too revealing. I couldn't introduce myself to people by telling them my name and directly informing them that I was often stupidly optimistic, too trusting, sometimes lonely, and a lot anxious about the insignificant things of this world. I would have then been given the label "WEIRDO", and the label-givers would probably have been right. 

Now I am trying to make peace with labels I have taken on through occupation. I am trying to make sense of the "TEACHER" label which often makes me cringe because it feels so off-putting. I also have to deal with the "FIRST YEAR TEACHER" label and the "ENGLISH TEACHER" and "DANCE TEACHER" labels and all the I'm-so-sorrys people dish out to me in response to my having to spend my days with teenagers. These labels carry with them an awkward weight where people assume I have strong feelings about Common Core (or whatever it is) or about standardized testing or about this or that form of pedagogy (which is just a stupid word teachers love to throw around to sound intellectual). I am not yet comfortable with the "TEACHER" label just yet, because I am not so sure what it means for me. I have very few strong feelings regarding educational legislature, which I know is the wrong thing for a teacher to say because we are mandated by law to have strong feelings. The word "pedagogy" makes me want to poke myself in the eyeball, and I hate discussing tests in any and all forms. 

As a teacher, I am also supposed to have a real reason for teaching. A philosophy if you will. I still do not have that figured out. I just like it, I guess. 

The truth of the matter is, I think I just want to curl up in a good chair with a good light and read Charles Dickens, and maybe talk about it with someone afterward. Does wanting to read Dickens make me an "INTELLECTUAL"? No. I just like the stories and the characters and the tongue-in-cheek writing only Dickens can pull off. 

I suppose the thing with all of this is is that I have not quite figured this all out. To say I am a teacher tastes weird in my mouth and sticks in my throat, and it makes people weirdly self-conscious about their grammar around me. Is that who I am supposed to be? Someone who makes others feel self-conscious about their own abilities to speak and write their own language? 

Like dancing, I feel like teaching is just something that I do. It is not the end-all-and-be-all of who I am. It is just another thing that I do, like reading Dickens. But this time I get paid for it, which isn't so bad. 

As for who I am, I think that is yet to be determined. I do not know how to string it all together from the jumble of nouns of adjectives available to me. 

Maybe I will figure that out next year. 


  1. I love this so much! Maybe we will both figure it out. I think you will find out very soon who you are. And it will fit perfectly unlike anything else you've tried on. It will flow out easily with no seeming uncomfortableness for you or those around you. Love you!

  2. This is amazing! I think you're pretty great just as Kelly, who likes to do all those awesome things. Also, I'm with you on the "pedagogy" word... it's gross sounding haha!

  3. I was thinking about something like this as I looked in the mirror this evening. I used to NEVER look in the mirror because I wasn't happy with what I saw. Today as I looked I thought about how even with the increasing wrinkles and bumps and under-eye bags, I still think I'm pretty. For me that's a huge accomplishment. In the end, though, whether I thought I was attractive was neither here nor there. I couldn't help thinking that it was no good being pretty if I'm selfish. And so I reflected on who I am and what it is I do. For me, who I am has always been kind of a sum total of what I do every day, often mixed in with a big dose of what I think everyone else thinks of me, which is surely misguided. Who in the world spends all their time thinking about and judging other people? Anyway, I've decided that part of the problem with deciding once and for all who I am is that not only am I always changing, but what I think of myself is always evolving. I think I've decided to accept that for now and just try to be a good person without attaching too many labels (or at least I want to try). I do think I've been kind of selfish of late, though. I don't like that. So I'd better get busy.
    Also, I think we're related. I've always wanted to be understood, wanted people to know who I was. I think that's why I always end up using too many details in my writing. (Like I'm doing right now.)
    I'm with you on Dickens. Jeremy and I are doing a first reading of Nicholas Nickelby, and I keep having to stop and laugh as I read aloud because his writing is so funny! He was a genius! I'd forgotten. I read A Christmas Carol and The Chimes years ago and loved them both. The Chimes in particular spoke to me at the time. Anyway, I've vowed to read more Dickens, so here we go.
    And speaking of reading, have you read Understood Betsy? It's such a great story and kinda of a quick read. I think it might have even been free for Kindle if I remember right. I think you'd like it.
    Phew! I guess all this philosophizing is brought to you by being pregnant and crocheting while Jeremy is out of town. I tend to build up my need to talk while he's gone. Ha ha! Love you! And sorry for the novel, but Hank's for having the option to write one available. ;)

    1. Novels are welcome and appreciated! That was some pretty good philosophizing!

  4. This was a good post Kelly and these were good comments Lynnette & Christine, but after Stake Conference Sunday when President Burgoyne told us who we really are, I have to remind you...I can't be constrained...You aren't titles or labels...You aren't who other people think you are...

    YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF HEAVENLY PARENTS!!! YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF GOD, IN THE SIMILITUDE OF HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN! I hope you don't just know that on the surface, but that you KNOW IT DEEP IN YOUR HEART! And I hope you always remember it! I hope you know that you are literally His child! He loves you and WANTS to bless you! He has blessed you SO MUCH ALREADY!

    I love you, each one of you, my beautiful daughters. ~Mama