I’ve been watching a lot of lectures about education lately, and there’s a common theme to answer a common question: How can I keep myself from burning out?
The answer is always a variation of “work harder” or “work smarter.”
This, I’m afraid, is simply insufficient. There is no amount of working harder or working smarter that can make the work we’re doing any less exhausting–and this applies to all areas, whether you’re a student, a teacher, healthcare provider, or something else.
For a long time I’ve supported the Human Rights Campaign–one of the largest and most well-known LGBT civil rights advocacy groups in the world. But as of today, I have severed my ties with them–and here’s the reason why.
I just finished reading a time-management article that reminded its readers that “You have just as many hours in the day as Beyoncé.” While this is scientifically true and simple enough to entertain mild minds, it neglects the fact that Beyoncé (in fact, most celebrities) have a few extra things going for them that the average person doesn’t.
So here’s five reasons why I’m not as productive as Beyoncé (and neither are you).
I have never been brave. I feign courage, I swallow my nerves, psych myself in anxiety until the adrenalin overpowers my emotion and I go. But I do not claim to brave. I follow the path of heroes, one step at a time, sometimes barely one breath at a time.
But I manage.
When I wrote last, I remarked about the number of unpublished posts I’ve written–it’s disheartening, the stories I yearn to tell, that I’m too afraid to share.
One of the too-many classes I’m taking this summer is a course in business ethics. When I added my second major in political science, I had everything planned out perfectly–and then I was told I needed to pick up additional, non-political science classes for the college (i.e., non-major) requirements. The first was a literature class (I’ll be taking fantasy in the fall–which does excite me) and the second was a philosophy class.
Which didn’t excite me at all.
Looking for an easy course that would at least have some tangential relevance to politics, I finally decided on business ethics because I didn’t know much about businesses, but they’re an important part of our economy–and thus an important consideration in politics.
It hasn’t all been fun, but what I’ve learned has been worth it.
The time has come: In barely twelve hours I’m leaving for Alaska. Past connecting flights in Chicago and Seattle, I’ll leave the lower 48 and have the chance to serve in a culture completely different than what I’m used to.
A different language, a different lifestyle, and I’m so excited to serve them.
Unfortunately, online access will be limited and I won’t be able to post while I’m away. Instead I’ll be eating lunch with the children in school or having dinner at the senior center. I’ll be in classes to learn Tlingit and classes to help students in math and reading. And in the rare moments I’m not actively serving, I’ll be participating in team reflections, writing in my journal, taking pictures, and using poetry to capture my experience.
I’ve got my boots and I’m ready for the snow.
Most of these pictures, poems, and other writings will be invisible to the world for a number of reasons that will prevent me from sharing them publicly–but I still want to share my experience privately with as many people as I can. I’m still fundraising for my trip, and anyone who donates at least $10 will receive a journal of reflections, photographs, and especially poetry from my service trip in Alaska. For those interested in experiencing my 2013 service trip, a $20 donation will also include my Belize adventure book.
My fundraiser ends on March 7, so please be sure to donate today if you can.
Thank you for all of your help and especially your readership!
It’s no secret I love learning, but if you press me to share the most memorable moments that made learning come alive, each of them would share a common theme: a teacher who inspired me. My favorite Hebrew school teachers were understanding and compassionate, sharing stories of living in Israel and talking to us in Hebrew. My favorite math teachers humanized abstract concepts and spoke to us as equals, helping us not only to learn, but to love. My political science teachers have made dull topics exciting by impersonating polar bears flopping around on the ice or breaking the tension with a sarcastic comment that leads the class into laughter; writing teachers have given encouragement, honest feedback, and shown an intimate interest in helping me to grow.
It is no small task, the work and effort I’ve put into my education at every level–from my earliest memories of being homeschooled through today–but if not for the passion my teachers showed me, all of this would have meant nothing.
So wouldn’t it be amazing, if only for a few days, I could inspire others as much as my teachers have inspired me?
When night fell, I stood outside in a valley of bricks, red blocks crisscrossed in white zigzags that somehow tied us to the earth yet seemed celestial emblazoned in the moonlight. Tall buildings sprouted around us like mountains, sheltering our silence, but still the wind whispered to us, sending cold thoughts crawling across our skin.
Our service project began on March 4–a Monday that should be the role model for all Mondays: We were excited, put in a great effort, and ended eager for the rest of the week. It became the cornerstone of our experience–the story’s climax, the man’s epiphany.
When news of the Royal Baby’s birth broke on Monday, I was listening to Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, talking about the 6.9 million children who die before their fifth birthday. As a proud uncle of an energetic and adorable little five-year-old, I couldn’t help but feel my heartstrings struck by the thought of having missed any of these amazing past few years–or the thought of not having any more years to look forward to.
No doubt the young Prince George Alexander Louis will receive the premier healthcare in the world and all the love any child could need or ever want, but for many children whose faces will never grace the front page of international news, this future is a dream yet to be imagined–and their present suffering is a nightmare for all of us.