First World Problems

All right, I’m writing this post in a bit of a humbled mood.

I’ve been doing this huge action research study this school year in which I have studied student apathy, the origins of student apathy, ways of preventing student apathy, and the effects of student apathy on the teacher.  I was…hell…I AM proud of the research that I have done, and I was really excited when I learned (a couple of weeks ago) that I was invited to present in a conference.  Thrilled.  Excited.  Jumping out of my skin.  I was so excited about the fact that I was going to share what my students had shown me to the world.

Well, today was the conference.

Last week, I spent about a hundred dollars on new clothes to include new shoes and make-up.  Now, I am classic non-girly-girl and cosmetics in my world are Chap-Stik and deodorant.  I even got a colleague to go shopping (I LOATHE shopping) with me to help me buy new clothing.  Buying all of this stuff was a huge deal for me, especially given that Pat and I are working at NOT spending money.

Sunday, I wrote up my outline for my presentation.  I even had Lauren edit it and she gave me some great points.

Yesterday, I had a colleague proof the outline.  I even showed it to my students so that they could give final suggestions. was the conference.

The breakout session I was speaking in was 40 minutes long.  I was actually sharing my time with another researcher.  Not a problem.  We had been informed earlier and had agreed on a good, healthy split of time (obviously, 20 minutes each).  I volunteered to speak second since I am just a little long-winded.

She got up on stage, started her Powerpoint and started talking.

And talking.

And talking.

And talking.

30 minutes later and 10 minutes past the point at which I was supposed to start talking, she was still talking.  5 minutes later, she asked for questions.  A couple minutes after that, she was looking at me expectantly.

7 minutes.

I had 7 minutes to talk.  7 minutes during which I had to condense my presentation and try to communicate something that I thought was powerfully important.

To 7 people.  3 of whom had heard my presentation before.

Of the 4 people left in this spacious ballroom (I did not have a Cinderella experience), 2 people listened.  2 people stared at their computers and basically ignored me.

To say I was pissed would be an understatement.  I ate my lunch, fuming, left the conference to go to my second talk about creative writing and writing fan fiction, and called my husband.  I vented and raged about my frustrations about how I was feeling disappointed and how I had robbed the family.  Pat, being lovely, offered as much comfort as he could (and I am not being sarcastic).

But as I have driven around the city and through suburbs and past farm lands and factories, I continued to fume about how I had been cheated from this breakthrough moment in my career.  My pedestal was tarnished.  The effigy to my brilliance and greatness was nothing more than gilded wood with a whole lot of nothing.

And no one cared.

Now I am being sarcastic.

Because somewhere around the point where I was passing the convenience store or the military installations or the cube of a library where I was teaching, I was slapped around by the knowledge that I was experiencing classic first-world problems.  On the radio (NPR), I heard news about Boko Haram joining ISIS.  I learned that ISIS might have kidnapped more people.  I listen to stories of financial markets having issues.

And I am mentally whining about 7 minutes?

Geez, I’m an idiot.

I’m an idiot when I get all frustrated and snarky because I wait my turn in the lane in which I am driving and someone rushes around in the other lane only to cut in front of me so that he/she doesn’t have to wait his/her turn and I’m angry because I was the good person to wait my turn.

Grow the heck up, girl.  It’s not that big of a deal.

I met a woman today who is from Nepal.  I don’t know a lot about Nepal.  But in doing some research, Nepal  ranks 145 out of 187 countries (courtesy of Wikipedia).

And I’m whining about 7 God-forsaken minutes.

Classic first-world problems.

My life is so friggin’ easy.  Sure, I don’t make tons of money, but my house would be huge by the standards of the Nepalese people.  I have indoor plumbing that even includes hot water.  I have electricity.  I have central heating and air.  I press a button and my house is either comfortably cool or comfortably warm.  I open a door and I have refrigerated food.  I have options.  I have choices.  My daughter or I will never suffer from the threat of cliterectomy.  My daughter, like myself, will choose if she wishes to get married.  Yeah, this is a lot like the Jilly-Bean post.

However, as I sit here in my recliner and the Girl changes channels, I am reminded of the incredible peace and joy of my life because I don’t live in a third-world country.  I live in a country in which I have rights and privileges and the ability to voice my opinion on anything I want.  And I can talk for 7 minutes or 7 seconds or 7 hours.

So, I didn’t get my 20 minutes of talking time.

Wah.  Wah wah wah.  I’m still a bit sore about this, but I’m even more humbled.  Because, in the end, it didn’t matter.  Tomorrow, I will go back to school and continue to work with my lovely students and will continue to learn from them as I teach them and the cycle of education will continue.

Tomorrow, I will start looking at academic journals and start thinking about writing up my research and get it published.  Because I do have some points I think are important and should be shared.

And, for now, I am going to be content with my 7 lost minutes and a whole lot of humble-ness that has been swapped for those 7 minutes.

I feel better already.

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