Comparisons

Standard

Today was kind of about anti-acceptance.

I hit the ground running, tackling emails as they came in and prepping for a big day at work. My afternoon meeting was cancelled so I was ready for a full-on productive day.

And suddenly, mid-morning, I had an irresistable urge to compare myself to others. I just had to know how much happier, accomplished, successful and attractive other people were compared to me and my sad little life. So I googled and facebooked and compared.

Would you believe it? I suck!

Also surprising: my productivity didn’t increase after all that research!

A few hours later, after a yoga class and talking with my husband, I pulled it together and got some work done. A visit from a wonderful student who wants to use me as a reference helped. I am still left with lingering negative feelings. Guilt over not getting the most out of my day. Frustration that I still waste time comparing myself to others. Regret that I somehow still lack a sense of inherent self-worth or satisfaction with my life.

Then of course, I drove to pick up my daughter after work. I see her face break into a smile at the window as she turns to run and greet me at the top of the stairs. Then I arrive home to a welcoming husband who tells me to get into the bath and relax, makes supper, and gives me Valentine’s chocolates. In between I visit with my loving and supportive parents. It really does a disservice to the amazing people who are my family when I’m this ungrateful for what I am doing with my life. I don’t know why I think there’s an objective standard of accomplishment, a common yardstick for measuring worth that runs along a single track. In fact, we are all unique, all given special gifts and constraints and opportunities and inspirations. There’s no one yardstick for success, and none of us is in a position to judge what someone else has done with her life.

And we all have the opportunity and responsibility to choose the life we want to live. I actually, at this point, don’t really want a high-pressure life. And I am quite taken with the idea of home schooling my girl. A choice like that would certainly not register high on the accomplishment scale I was applying this morning. Yet it could be a life full of joy, love and value.

Above all, I need to own my choices and rejoice in them. If I’m living my life, I choose to love it. If I’m not loving it, I can choose to make it something new.

So my choice for tonight and tomorrow is to celebrate where I am and who I’m with.

With that, I’m going to drink tea, eat chocolate, read a bit and maybe purge. Because THAT is my choice, and I love it!!

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2 responses »

  1. Hi Kamilla, I’ve been reading your blog all year, and honestly you have inspired me a bit on dealing with clutter…everytime you purge something, I tend to do the same myself, and it does feel great. But I am moved to comment because I want to hear more about your thoughts on home schooling…this is always a tricky issue with me…as a teacher, it is hard for me not to take it personally, and I am always surprised when peers who work in the field of education describe home schooling as the ideal choice (as opposed to a positive option for specific kids for whom the other available options just aren’t working.) Would you be able to share more of your thinking on this?

    • Hi Naomi,
      thanks so much for commenting and sharing your response to my comments on home schooling versus other educational options. Your feedback makes me realize that I haven’t fully explored this issue at all in writing, though I think about it a lot, so my comments probably sound as if I think home schooling is always the best option and better than other educational choices. I definitely don’t feel that way. Here’s where I’m at right now in terms of thinking of educational options for my child.

      I definitely have a personal bias towards home schooling FOR MYSELF AND MY FAMILY because, first, I have a background in education and so, I hope, at least some knowledge of what would make for good versus less good schooling, home or otherwise. And second, because I’m one of those people who has a strong attachment to the classic back-to-the-land lifestyle: days spent with the children, learning how to do assorted home/gardening work together, reading and writing books, crafting, etc. etc. Basically, it is a lifestyle I can see having and imagine it as a nurturing, rich environment for our family. And: though I’m working on it, I’m definitely super careful of what influences I expose my child to.

      I’ve seen and experienced some things in public schools which make me concerned. Mainly: externalization of evaluation versus a focus on self-directed and motivated learning; commercialization of childhood, with products sold, children expected to sell/market goods to support their activities; the rigidity and compartmentalization of the learning experience; and the social pressures and materialism that even young children are subjected to. I know that my own ability to be a self-motivated learner has been affected by education in that I tend to take the easy way out and look for the external motivation to study. I look at my younger brother, who was incredibly bright and loved learning and was completely turned off by school to the point where he didn’t think he was smart. I observe my nieces and nephews, the social pressure they have in young grades, the focus on grades over learning, and it concerns me.

      These concerns are not directed at teachers, many of whom are highly qualified. It’s the structure of schools that is the biggest problem, not the teachers.

      I also have seen some wonderful schools and teachers. The teachers I worked with on my doctoral research did an amazing job of creating nurturing classroom communities and learning environments that foster self-directed learning. I’ve observed Montessori classrooms (just a few) that were amazingly inspiring. I definitely believe that a student in a good classroom can, in many ways, do better and learn more than that student could at home with an untrained parent as a teacher. And, frankly, I’m not a trained teacher though I’ve studied education – it’s entirely possible my daughter would do much better in a great classroom.

      As well, you make a good point that different school choices work better for different kids. Some kids will thrive in public schools, some in a variety of other school types, some at home. I think home schooling can be a great option for many kids who want the close attention from their parents, who aren’t ready for the level of separation that comes with going to school. I don’t know yet what will be best for my daughter. I do know that if she isn’t ready to be in school, I don’t want to push her to go. And then of course, there are practical realities: if we both need to be working at the time, then she will need to go to some type of school. And that may be the best, most positive choice for her.

      Regardless of where I’d send my child for education (regular school, special classes, etc.) I would want to explore a school (any school) and teacher very carefully. We want to learn more about the options in our area, which include Montessori, Waldorf, some religious schools, and academic prep schools. Montessori is the main option that appeals to me and, if I feel good about the teachers and school culture, will be a strong possibility.

      I’m about to read more of Alfie Kohn’s work – I’ve got Unconditional Parenting in my bag – and from what I know, his work highlights the main reason I would choose to home school rather than send my kids to a public school: the way the use of praise and external evaluations takes ownership of learning from children. Self-motivated learning and retaining a drive to explore one’s passions are the main reasons I would want to home school over other options.

      I’d love to hear more of your perspective from working in classrooms about the benefits and range of experiences you see in schools.

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