A love-hate relationship: writing and teaching

I wish I could have written this reflection before the 5th of December. If I had, there would have been no pressure to meet the expectation that I must have a profound reflection that relates to tat’uMadiba. I shan’t be writing about uTata. But the fact that I can write, that I am educated, that I can claim a voice has a lot to do with the icon’s life. It’s no mistake that I write. It’s no mistake that I’m a teacher, either, but 2013 has taught me that I may have chosen two passions that often send me to a dark place, an existential crisis.

The year has been long and tiring. I wish I could have written more. This must be the lament of every young, aspiring writer: I wish I had more time. The irony is that the reason I have not been able to write as much as I would have liked to, is one of the things that also brings me great joy: being a teacher. The will to write has been affected by my will to stay afloat in the business of being a teacher.

Writing and teaching are second cousins: teaching requires that one who wants to teach well they must be prepared to be depleted of energy at the end of a good day of teaching, the same way a writer might feel after they have written the story or essay they have been aching to write. Both tasks require an inner energy that is illusive and always leaves me wondering “Where does it come from?”.

Teaching teenagers has taught me many lessons about myself, the same way writing has become a tool for helping me understand myself and the world around me. I don’t write because I am a brilliant writer nor am I a teacher because I am the best teacher in the world. Both writing and teaching happen with great difficulty in my life. I approach both tasks with great anxiety. I am still trying to remind myself to be kind to myself when I approach either of these two tasks. And this year I have not been very kind to myself. I have hated teaching because I am often tired to the point where I think I can’t breathe. I have hated writing whenever I have started writing something but have left it incomplete because I can’t find the right words to complete it.

This level of self-flagellation cannot be healthy for one individual. But here it is. The truth about the two things I love the most. There’s no guarantee that things will be different in the new year, but as I glance back at the past year, I’m making peace with responsibility of attempting to put my life back together through writing so I can be a better person in my classroom next year.

A reflection written for Bokamoso Leadership Forum


Anonymous said…
As a fellow teacher and a "writer", I am glad I'm not the only one who feels pulled apart by their passions. Sometimes we must accept that we can't do it all -- and that's okay.

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