Hustle Hard

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I am addicted. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there is a problem, right? Well, I am addicted to social media. I will spend hours scrolling through the vast wastelands of human longing.  We are all longing for something, for many its connection, for others its attention and fame. We all reach out and gaze lovingly at our devices, they are who we spend most of our day with. They are who we talk to. They are who we go to when we have a question or feel sad. For me, my device has been my most successful relationship ever. My phone knows me so well, it knows what I want to buy, what I want to watch, and even trips that I might want to go on next. It is always there for me, always. I have tried several times to break up with my phone but that was all just talk. I have even written a poem about breaking up with it. I have done things to shift my attention from one thing to the next, but it still usually ends with me staring at my phone for hours.

In general, I only follow positive people and things but I am in a few groups on Facebook and there is rarely anything positive to be found in those. I am usually a fly on the wall observing and trying to understand people and how we think. With all that said there is one thing that is universal across all platforms, HUSTLE. The idea of setting goals and hustling hard to achieve them. Sacrificing and working hard to build an empire. To do everything you can to get rich or die trying! Everyone seems so ambitious; I mean even on dating sights they ask you about your level of ambition. I am not really ambitious.

I love to live life, to read, to travel, to enjoy every moment with my kids, and always create new memories. To do these things I need money, so I have ambition but its limited. I am not willing to work more hours, I am not willing to have less time with my kids, nor am I willing to sacrifice my personal time. I used to feel odd. Like I needed to be doing more. Like I needed three different revenue streams. Like I needed to be this new ambitious woman. Women had fought for the right to be all those things and here I am squandering all the opportunities they toiled for. This used to send a symphony of “You Are Not Good Enough” reverberating through the echo chambers of my mind. Especially when I first left grad school.

People would ask me what I was doing with my life. When I would tell them that I was teaching it was never met with enthusiasm. I would be asked how much does that pay? The next question would be, how long did I think I could tough it out? I even had one “friend” end our friendship because they didn’t want to watch me waste my life. For a while, I would go through the motions and act as if I were going to do something different, pursue a more ambitious career but deep in my soul, I knew that just wasn’t me.

I didn’t come to teaching easily and thought it would only be a temporary thing. The kids would be adjusted after a bit and I could move on to a proper career with a more dignified title. What actually happened was that I enjoyed teaching biology. I (GRADUALLY) grew to genuinely love my students. I enjoy talking to them and I have gotten really close to tears in shared moments with them. There was one student that helped me shift my perspective and helped me realize that I was supposed to be a teacher her name was Lovely.

Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Tiffany Haddish

Lovely, was a very tall, polite, and studious young woman. She had a good sense of humor and actually reminds me a lot of Tiffany Haddish.  The annunciation and cadence when she spoke was a musical cacophony of urban educated lingo. I liked her but didn’t give it much thought. One day during advisory the kids wanted to do “group therapy” to talk about the random struggles in the lives of high school freshmen. I agreed thinking this would be more of the normal talk of crushes and petty nonsense that I would help them sort out regularly. When it was her turn, she spoke of being abandoned and the pain of not having her mother. I felt her pain and so did the others. It was like a domino effect one after the other students shared their real issues and we all shared. We talked once a week I would simply listen and try to understand. I was patient and thoughtful with my responses to ensure that everyone felt heard and respected. After a few weeks, I wrote a little message on a post-it and gave it to Lovely.  I don’t remember what I wrote exactly but four years later when she was addressing the incoming freshmen (she was class president) she spoke about how great the teachers at our school were. She mentioned the post-it that I had given her. She said that it was still stuck to her mirror and that she had read it so many times over the years. I was blown away. I had always talked to her and kept a watchful eye out, secretly rooting for her at every turn. To know that the few words of encouragement that I shared with her helped her, solidified everything for me. I am a teacher and always will be.

So, no I don’t have a lot of hustle/ambition, I’m not going to be a CEO or a doctor and I’m ok with that. I love being a teacher, though I will fuss and complain about many of the things that come with it, teaching feeds my soul. Oh, and all the breaks and summers off are pretty dope too! It leaves lots of time to stare at my phone.

My poem:

We Are About to Break Up!

This thing started a few years back

I resisted but he consistently pursued me
And was dutifully committed to the chase

Gradually he broke down my guard
So we decided to be more than just friends

I don’t know exactly when we transitioned
But before I knew it, I was all in

But who could blame me…
How could I resist…
He was everything
and checked every box on my list.

He was sexy and loquacious
We would talk for hours and laugh at those who wished they could be us

Hours spent like narcissus gazing into the pools of one another’s eyes
Enthralled by our reflections we found it hard to look away

We were inseparable
But now we are about to break up!

What I imagined to be a fairytale was merely a myth
Caught in his web I became consumed by my attraction

I was so plugged in I felt as if

I was in a lucid dream

I shared, I gave, I did, and said so much

Yet my pockets were riddled with lint

I lost min, hours and years

I have to let go, I have to be comfortable with being alone
Even if it means breaking up with this damn phone!

Yes, you see my him is truly a reflection of me
My virtual self keeps me caught in a matrix of funny memes, videos, and constant updates

Constantly looking, poking, and protecting this damn thing

In the absence of my souls equal I found comfort in the constant availability and ease of connection

See even without an erection my devotion allowed me to be ravished with no protection, fucked around, and got an infection…

Downloaded a virus and now my programing has a glitch,
time to reboot time to fix this shit…. So fuck this phone I’m out this bitch!
We just broke up……

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