"There is peace even in the storm." - Vincent Van Gogh
Sensing the storm
One of my friends can smell when rain is coming. When he calls for rain, it rains. He calls it better than the local weatherman. A lot of us are like that when it comes to our own lives. We sense something is off or on its way to us. Storms will come. The trick is to find the calm before we enter the storm.
A marked woman
When I was a teacher, I once worked with a principal who was more like a malevolent midget than an administrator. (And I will call her a midget because I’m short, too!) She would throw anyone under the bus when she felt threatened in any way. We had a tenuous relationship the moment I walked in the building. So when another administrator made an observation about a situation with a particular student, she came at me, guns blazing. I knew the observation wasn’t about me, but she liked to make preemptive strikes before criticism came her way. Since she didn’t like me to begin with, I was an obvious target.
She gunned for me for years. I found myself focusing more on making sure I covered my ass than making sure my lessons were fun for the kids. I taught in two different buildings, and one year, I had my evaluation in a different building than the malevolent midget. She got into the ear of the other principal, and that one started gunning for me too. She looked for something to nail me with, and she found it.
I admit, I did give her something. I was responsible for student files, and they gave me a broken, shitty file cabinet to put them in. I should have asked for a decent one, but since I was so beaten down I didn’t think I would get one. I didn’t bother.
Instead, I let the files look a little messy. Everything was in order, but the files kind of looked like shit. In my hopeless, dejected state, I thought nobody really gave a shit about me or the kids I taught, so I let it get there.
Then, the shit storm came. I knew it was coming, but I was ready to fight. One thing, I always knew, messy looking files or not, I was always a good teacher. That would always save me.
I had to remind myself of that, though. It got to the point where I started to feel physically ill. I remember the moment that happened. My heart started beating really fast for no reason. I thought: Fuck this. No situation and no person will get to me like this. I got myself together, took a breath, and decided to stand on the good work I knew I did everyday.
As the storm continued around me, the administrator who was evaluating me would just show up to my class just to make sure I was doing my job. Not only was she satisfied I was doing my job, she loved what she saw me doing. I eventually won her over. She also realized they needed to give me a proper place to put my files so they could look decent.They never complained about those files ever again. I didn’t give them a reason.
The storm passes
The malevolent midget was never really convinced even after the other one told her what a good job I was doing. She always looked at me sideways until the day she went to another district. Before that happened though, she gave up on giving me a hard time. As much as she tried, she could never prove I didn’t do my job well.
The only reason the storm passed is because I stood on my belief in myself and knew everything would work out. I made my classes fun again. I decided I wasn’t letting anyone do anything to me. If they tried, they could wear themselves out. That’s how I got through the bullshit.
That’s the key. You just have to find your calm before the storm hits.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer