Saturday, November 03, 2007

days full of disappointment

I am feeling disenchanted with myself: this morning the GRE, where I did a mediocre job with a series of questions I overthought (or underthought, in the case of my guessing games with the math), and I came home to two rejection notices from lit mags. I am back in the game now, back to the routine of sending out, boomeranging back out, and I promised myself to figuratively paper my walls with rejection notes, proud because I'm actually doing something. Rejection peppered with acceptance. I have to keep returning to the good things--the Intermedia acceptance, the postcard, the review. I need to not feel like one encased in a fragile shell, but everything I do is so personal. This is why teaching high schoolers and wanting publication is so contrary to all else; I ingest the reservations with literature and it fills me like bile, I ingest the "No thank you" notes and think I am certainly no good. But I know this is all a part of the routine of being who I am, of what career can bloom from a major in English.

I spoke to my father after taking the GRE this morning, and I asked him this raw question: "Am I too stupid for graduate school?" Maybe I am, after all. He was incredulous and pointed out the return to the dean's list, the good grades I received, and I know it came from a passion and determination, an interest I had in what I was learning. Did it come by accident though? Did my professors mistake excitement for intelligence?

Sometimes, now that I have been out of the routine of intense study, I feel as if I have somehow become less intelligent now that I am a teacher. I feel as if I am concentrating so much on how to get those strugglers to listen to the story, how to explain the basics of literary terms and keep them in their memories, how to explain the plot of Milton that I have forgotten how to dig deeper into a text. I want to counterbalance my own easy reads in the classroom with intense individual study, but my brain is too often fried at the end of an afternoon, my patience waning, my concentration dim.

I want to be important to my field. I want to be remarkable. I hate mediocre. I hate feeling as if I am, which is a feeling that can easily come when self-doubt has always been easy too. I need to trade tentative for confidence. I need to trade exhausted for combative, for challenging, for far-flung, for celebration, for arms wide open.


webspinner27 said...

Mrs. S-K,

Graduate school is not a matter of intelligence (even for me with a sub-par GPA), it is about persistence, stamina, and love for what you are trying to accomplish. Grad school (for me) is an individual path, actually having very little to do with the subject I study, and more to do with overcoming MY shortcomings. You can definately do it. Know you will fall, and must pick yourself back up. Know you will want to quit, but you must continue. That is the essence of grad school for me. Hugs!

Gette said...

When I student-taught, I felt so removed from the literature I was teaching. It was all about the schedule, the machine and the process, not the content.