I'm sitting here looking at the grey skies over Chicago. Planes coming and going, gray rain dropping down. The guy at gate E12 is putting his happiest Disney voice asking people to board for Detroit Michigan like they are about to ride Space Mountain.
A tired man at Starbucks bumped into me and said "excuse me" just as I said it to him and then glared at me and said "I said excuse me" to an incredulous look from me as to why he was so snippy. Maybe he gave everything he had today and didn't have anything left to determine that I meant him no harm and was only trying to be respectful.
After arriving last night close to 1 am and sleeping a few fitful hours, I started speaking at 8:15 am this morning with a small break for lunch and then finished up around 3:30. Lots of people had started leaving the conference muttering concerns about Chicago traffic with a very slim last session.
Ending a conference feels just like ending school. I get this feeling. I want closure. Somehow I want to know that I've done enough. I want to know that today made a difference. I want to know that it was worth this unique, special day -- the only October 18, 2012 that I will ever live. I don't really know what I want to confirm that. I don't know why the kind compliments about the keynote this morning or other words of encouragement just weren't enough. But they never are.
It is the same way on the last day of school. When I walk the empty halls, picking up a stray old piece of paper or half a pencil, turning it between my thumb and forefinger as I wonder what it was that just happened to me. Another conference, another school year. Time passes so fast. Lively things full of action and interactions. A thousand microexpressions on hundreds of faces too many to interpret and read.
Same old feeling
I realized as I checked in through security that I always feel this way after a conference and I always feel this way at the end of the school year. It is the same feeling, this gray, empty wondering if it was all enough. If I was enough. If I really made a difference. Did I help others.? A thousand gargoyles of doubt gnaw at the gray matter in my mind making me wonder.
Yet, in a moment, those gray statues of doubt vanish as I realize that it has to be enough. I worked for hours on these presentations. These presentations are the results of thousands of hours in the classroom DOING this. These presentations and these school years have to be enough...
BECAUSE IT IS ALL I HAVE..
ALL I HAVE IS ENOUGH. ALL YOU HAVE IS ENOUGH. IT HAS TO BE because there is nothing else left to give when you have given everything. Learn from your mistakes and get better every time but draw a clear line between rethinking your approach and approaching self doubt because you don't feel like you got enough verbal validation for what you did.
I remember one of my very first presentations at GAETC to a small room of perhaps 20 people. I gave everything I had and was done and said "Is that all there is." Now that I've been around, I can speak from experience that whether it is 5 or 5,000 the feeling is the same. More people doesn't give you more validation - it may give you more people who like you, but people are people. If you can change one life, that is great.
No leprechaun is going to jump out of the bushes and hit you in the head with his shillelagh and endow you with the knowledge that this is your lucky day and you just inspired everyone to become the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You're talking to people and people aren't so easy to read like that.
Today, in the gray Chicago day, I want to send a message to all my fellow teachers and presenters around the world that:
If you give all you have that YOU have given enough. YOU MATTER very much. Don't let self doubt keep you from doing it again.
Have a great day. Teachers and presenters of all kinds - I'm proud of you for doing this hard work of teaching others.
ALL YOU HAVE is enough. You are enough. Rest your head and have a good day knowing you gave all you had.
- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds