The end of a tour usually brings thinking and introspection. This summer tour is no exception. In fact, it might have brought more, especially since I go back to work next week. Yes, the school year officially starts for me even though the kiddos don’t arrive until September 1st. The classroom needs to get ready. Lesson plans need to get written. Adjustments to curriculum are required. Despite the fact that I have been teaching a LONG time (this will be my 19th year!), I still don’t feel like I have the beginning of the year smooth. Perhaps, I wonder if the lack of intensity is to blame.
I remember being a kid or even a young adult and feeling determined to figure out exactly who I was and where I needed to be. Should I commit myself to being an activist, I asked in college. A teacher should focus 110% of the time on one’s classroom and students, I believed early on in my career. Where and how does fandom fit in with all of this, I periodically asked. Yet, I felt that I had to choose ONE. There was only one path that led to personal success. Success required intensity and extreme focus.
As I have gotten older, I began to see and feel life with more complexity. Yes, I’m a teacher and, yes, there are parts that I LOVE about the job. I love when my students get into a serious debate over political issues of our time or the moves that were made by the United States throughout history are discussed. My favorite moments are when I see my students’ passionately engaged in a topic. Unfortunately, I’m well-aware of aspects of my job that I feel less (in some cases, much less) excited about. I am not a big fan of meetings filled with educational jargon about the latest trends that will supposedly increase student achievement. Grading is time consuming and often painful. I despise the amount of time and energy this “full-time” job takes. During the school year, I desperately long for breaks or at least a day away from school related work. Teaching is not my whole life and it is NOT the defining characteristic of who I am. It is one part of who I am.
Beyond teaching, I can be a political activist. At times, that has meant diving deep to work on specific political campaigns or for specific candidates. At other times, it means joining a protest or two about issues that matter to me. It almost always means that I’m watching politically focused shows and reading the latest news. Many conversations with friends and colleagues feature political discussions. Yet, like teaching, it is not who I am but a part of who I am.
Likewise, fandom is a part of who I am. It is just as big of a part as teaching or being an activist. The commitment I have made with regards to this blog or our various projects show that. If it didn’t matter to me, I simply wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t take the time to read the latest Duran news and the reactions from fans. I wouldn’t write about Duran or the fandom surrounding the band. There would be no Duranie focused event planning for me. Is everything about it perfect? Of course not. Just like in teaching or campaigning, there are elements that frustrate me, that I don’t like. Do those negative aspects affect what I do with my fandom? It can and does. I’m only human.
Sometimes, I think I would be a better teacher or activist or fan whatever you want to call it if I would focus on just that aspect of myself and my life. I wouldn’t be distracted by the other two. I wouldn’t be split into thirds. Maybe this singular focus would help make my good teaching great or make my political activities so much more affective. The laser focus might improve this blog or my writing or the fan events we plan. Yet, I also know that I’m wouldn’t be happy just doing one over the other two. Some aspect of my personality needs all three or a FORM of all three. Do I have to be in a classroom to enjoy teenagers engaging with historical topics? No. Do I have to be writing a blog to be a good fan organizer/writer? Probably not. Yet, I would need something like those examples.
Does my participation with all three hurt my performance, actively hurt it? Maybe. Some think so. Then, the question becomes how do I make myself happy (while still paying my bills) by acknowledging all three aspects of myself without harming or muting what I could be doing with these three ambitions? How can I commit myself more to them, individually, while maintaining all? How do I make it so the lack of time and energy from doing all doesn’t kill the reason I love these? I need to find a way to show and maintain my passion for all three to be the most effective and most happy. While I feel as though I have accepted the complexity of myself and my passions, I feel like I struggle to keep those passions AS passions or struggle to show them as passions. My goal for this year is to figure out how to do just that. Clearly, it won’t be easy but I have a feeling that it will definitely be worth it!