Here’s the thing about being funny, it ain’t easy. Maybe for some people it is, and I imagine those people live their lives as comedians and humor writers, but I’m just an art teacher, and truth be told, I’m not that funny.
|There are no Band-Aids for hurt feelings|
My humor comes from a dark place. Not the darkest of places, but a dark place nonetheless. It’s rooted in cynicism, bitterness and skepticism. I use humor to cope with undesirable situations. I use humor to connect with others and say the things that everyone else is afraid to say. We’re all thinking it, but no one would ever actually say these things that I say. These things are bold, they’re brash, a little offensive, often snarky and politically incorrect, but always truthful.
Take, for example, my 20 Things An Elementary Art Teacher Will Never Tell You post. This post is, by far, my most popular, most visited, and most commented on post. This post put me on the map, if you will. Why? Because deep down inside, most of you, dare I say all of you, can relate to this post. At one point or another, you have thought these things, but have never had the balls to say it out loud.
That’s where I come in. Safely hidden behind the curtain of anonymity provided by the big bad internet, I gather up all the balls and I say these things for you. Generally, we all have a good laugh, feel a little less alone in our deep down inside feelings, and get on with the rest of our days. Generally. Every now and again, someone who clearly doesn’t belong here, whether it’s because they have no sense of humor or because they aren’t an art teacher, wanders over to this bog. Maybe they got lost on their way to the glitter supply store, or maybe curiosity brought them. I don’t know. Regardless, they stop by and before they leave, they make sure to let me know exactly how offensive and horrible I am and that I must truly be a bad, bad person.
Most of the time I take a deep breath and forget these comments (but that doesn’t mean they don’t still sting a little. Believe it or not, as heartless as I am, I am still human), but lately, some comments have really gotten me down. Lately, some readers have been coming down on me not only as a person, but as a colleague. I won’t get into specifics because I feel as if I would be stooping to their level (but if you’re curious, I publish all comments, and you can go search them down yourself). I think the main reason these few attacks have hurt is because the authors have been so horribly wrong about me. I am not anything that they think I am.
I am a good person, a great teacher and an excellent colleague. I am also a blogger, and like any other blogger out there, I know how to spin my tale for the biggest impact with my audience. I don’t lie, but I know how to write a piece from a perspective or in a voice that will make what I’m saying really hit home. I often do this through snarky, bitter, brash, offensive humor, but this is not who I am in real life. I think most of you probably get that. I hope you do. My online persona is a version of me, but it is not the me that I offline. At least not entirely.
In real life, I’m happy. I love my job. I love my students. I love my colleagues. I genuinely have very few negative things to say about my colleagues, my students or my job. At this point in time, in my current situation, I have very, very little to complain about. I am very fortunate to be in this place. I am very grateful to be in this place, but happiness and job satisfaction don’t write a blog, at least not this one, so from time to time, I slip into the dark version of me and attempt to spit something out that might be entertaining to read. It wasn’t always like this. When I first created Art Teachers Hate Glitter, I was not in a good place. I had just experienced a few years working in a couple of hostile and unwelcoming work places. Going back to 20 Things An Art Teacher Won’t Tell You, I actually based that piece on those past experiences, which happened to be the only experiences I had working in education. I have since broadened my knowledge of what it can be like to work in education, and while yes, there is still a lot of truth to my 20 Things piece, I have also discovered that in some schools, nothing I said in that piece is true. Maybe I’ll revisit 20 Things someday and write a rebuttal to it, but right now, let me get to my ultimate point.
I’m a good person, and I’m happy. Being funny and maintaining the “voice” that you’ve been entertained by over the past few years is becoming harder and harder to do. As I put more distance between myself and the negative experiences I’ve had in education, I’m finding it more difficult to get in touch with the source of my humor. Add to that the harsh feedback I’ve received recently, and the fact that my students have apparently learned proper decorum and are no longer using my art room as a bathroom or relieving themselves of their undergarments, and my enthusiasm and energy for this blog is fizzling. I want to be funny. I want to draw you in and make you feel understood and less alone in the isolating position we have all taken on, but… eh…
I’m not going to give up blogging, but forgive me if my posts are few and far between for awhile. I love blogging. I love connecting with different art educators from around the world. I love hearing your feedback, and I love it when you share your painful, funny and oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-that-happened moments. I’ve developed numerous online relationships that I cherish, and I want to continue building on those. But… but… I need to recharge. I need to refocus. I need a moment to recover from the negativity that I’ve been replaying over and over again every time I sit down to write. Will this offend? Am I going too far? How will this be received? I just need some time to feel good about what it is I do again. Please excuse me while I take some time. Thank you.
NOTE: I wrote this prior to the AOE Winter 2014 Conference. I had a great time and truly enjoyed the conference. It felt great to interact with others via Twitter. I had a moment afterwards, in which I hesitated, and considered not publishing this, but I decided I needed to. The conference buzz is going to wear off, and in a week or two, I’ll be sitting in front of the computer, stressed over not being able to write, fearful of how what I write will be received. I want to thank all of you for your positive feedback after the conference. It has helped. Truly. Thank you.