A Narcissist’s Vocabulary Lessons

I’m losing my breath, I’m losing my right to be wrong.  I’m frightened to death, I’m frightened that I won’t be strong.  –“Who I Am,” Nick Jonas & the Administration

{Watch “Who I Am” here.  My enthusiasm for Jonas projects is well-known on this blog, and I will be buying the album of the same title on February 2nd.  I’m looking forward to hearing more of the prodigious Nick’s new sound!}

For the first time in my life, I’m failing.  I’m failing my students, I’m failing my coworkers.  I am not doing an excellent job. 

Okay, maybe it’s not the first time.  There was that D+ in a college science class.  Don’t tell anyone.


I don’t know how to not do an excellent job.  That phrase is thrown around metaphorically.  Someone doesn’t know how to fail.  It means they always do great things.  That’s not what I mean here.  I mean, I don’t know how to handle myself when I feel like I’m not performing, not producing stellar results.  I’m not sure what to do when I worked until 6:00 p.m. on a Friday, brought work home over the weekend, spent almost all my free time this week doing work stuff, and yet everything is not getting done.  And not just the stuff that falls off your to-do list eventually because it’s not essential.  Those things aren’t even blips on my radar this year.  Essential things aren’t getting done. 

It’s not just quantity, but quality as well.  It feels like my reading and writing instruction is haphazard, my record-keeping is disorganized, my classroom is cluttered.  I had such a system for everything the past four years, and this year I’m creating everything new.  Even my first year in preschool, by mid-October the systems for organizing my records, my classroom, and my planning were set and usable.  Now, in December, I’m still organizing.  I can’t teach effectively if I don’t know what needs to be taught, what happened in the past weeks, and where my materials are.

And why, oh why, does it feel like the pressure is on?  Is preschool really less essential than first grade? 

(The correct answer is, NO, they are both equally essential.  Just as some kids don’t need preschool, some kids come into first grade leaps and bounds beyond the others, and will be at grade level or beyond at the end of the year no matter their classroom experience.  That’s just the way it goes with development.  Some kids are just ready to learn to read at the age of 6–or earlier–and others need a lot of teaching to make it to grade level.  You already know my soapboxy opinion on the topic, nature in combination with nurture, teachers are usually making up for deficits in background experience, or pushing kids in advance of when they are developmentally ready for certain skills, blah, blah…)

But this post isn’t about what I believe about how kids learn.  This is about what I believe about how I work.  (Overwork + undersleep + missing a fun party due to the previous addends = Dawn is a vapid narcissist tonight.  This is the “Dawn is a vapid narcissist” website.  If you feel you have encountered this website in error, please go to www.klove.com (AKA, the “Jesus is NOT a vapid narcissist” website) to listen to some musical messages that will reverse the error.)  

(I had to look up both of those words to make sure I’m using the phrase appropriately.  Vapid=dull and tedious.  Narcissism=egotism or selfishness.  I was right, I should use that phrase here!)  🙂

(I love a good vocabulary lesson!  Recently learned words include: dearth, pharyngitis, idiom, virile.  And yes, how I got to adulthood, and to be a teacher nonetheless, without understanding idioms is beyond me as well!) 

A couple of places I may have gone wrong.  It turns out I am not in control of everything.  (I know, crazy, right?)  I once heard of a book title: When People Are Big and God Is Small.  I haven’t read the book, but the thought in the title stuck with me.  If I think I always need to do everything right, everything excellent, everything with stellar results…that’s pretty big of me, isn’t it?  I mean, who am I to define God’s purpose for my existence?  Truth be told, I do not strive for perfection for the sake of my students.  I strive for perfection simply because otherwise I am not perfect.  That’s pretty misguided.  My success and my competence and my excellence are not what is important in the world.

In other words, my standards for my own performance might be a little bit higher than an acheivable level for a finite human being.  The only One who can acheive standards higher than human possibility is God.  I am setting God-like standards for myself, and I am more disappointed when I don’t meet my standards than when I don’t meet God’s standards.

I am my own idol.

My little experiment, to work a lot for a couple weeks to see if it helps the overwhelmed, is going to send me off the deep end, I fear.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 10:57:48

    I’ll be saying a prayer for you and turning over your work load to the Lord. I’ve heard that we should all “pray as if it all depends on God and work as if it all depends on me.” And, no, I’m not sure of the proper credit for the quote.


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