Yesterday, I said that “my second resolution is to be more proactive in making myself happier. Which means, I am going to live each day to the fullest, and not shy away from opportunities. It also means that I am going to be more outgoing and build my self esteem. My second resolution means that I am going to work on personal growth, and this may be the most difficult of them all.

RB (I Just Wanna Be Happy) commented:

“Being more proactive about making myself happier”

This is an great resolution and something I am keenly interested in. The key question is “how.” How do you do this? The answer is surely different for every person, but I’d like to understand what you will do to accomplish this resolution. I think we could all learn from sharing on this topic.

I wanted to write more about this because it really made me think. I was purposely vague because I’m still considering the “the key question” of HOW? First of all, I have a major flaw I want to work on. I get very excited about things, and then, I stop and think about them and end up talking myself out of it. Grand ideas, but not so grand follow throughs. I hate this part of myself. A prime example, I will see a job announcement and get excited about the opportunity to find something better. I know I don’t always want to teach where I am teaching now: the pay is low, the kids are snobbish and rude, and there is rarely any rewards because the kids just have no ambition. So I’m always looking for a job teaching college, which I much prefer to middle and high school. The problem is, I get excited about a job announcement, but then I start to think about it more and more, until I talk myself out of applying. This is one of the things I want to change, if I am qualified, or mostly qualified, I’m going to try for the job. I may not get it, but if I don’t try, then I most certainly never will. Besides, if I don’t, it won’t be the first rejection letter that I’ve received from a job posting. So I am going to put myself out there more.

When there is an opportunity in front of me, I am going to try for it. If it’s a job, a man, a chance to get in better shape, whatever the opportunity is, when it knocks, I’m going to answer the door. I am tired of backing down. I am tired of not going after what I want. I am tired of not being more proactive in making myself happier.

I have self esteem issues. I never think I’m smart enough, or well spoken enough, or that I write very well. Being in graduate school beat me down a lot, in many ways. In some ways it was great, but I had an advisor who became the greatest hindrance to my education. He constantly told me that what I turned into him was crap. I’d take his suggestions to heart, fix everything he thought was wrong, then turn it back into him. He’d rip on that too, though I followed his advice to the letter. This would go on and on through numerous drafts until eventually, I would end up with something almost identical to the first draft. Only after all of that, would he finally sign off on something. I had a department chair that was the same way with my teaching. The thing is, and I don’t want to sound conceited here, but I am a good writer and teacher. I may not be great, but I am a succinct writer who doesn’t beat around the bush and end up with some esoteric bullshit that no one can understand. Most professors hate that I am concise and straightforward, and I don’t know why.

But what has changed my mind is this: I am a fantastic teacher and lecturer. I connect well with my students, and whether they want to or not, they leave my class with knowledge and usually with the desire to take my class again. Not because it is easy, but because they were challenged, and they learned in an entertaining way. Students learn from the first week of class that they’d better pay attention and take notes. Most importantly though, pay attention because you never know what I’m going to say next. Sometimes I get on a roll, the words are coming fast and furious (students often bring recorders or laptops so that they don’t miss anything), they leave there with a wow factor. I’ve had class go over ten or fifteen minutes past the end and the students nor I ever realize it. The point is, I am good at what I do, and from this point forward, I’m not going to let anyone get me down.

Like it or not, I’m a force to be reckoned with when I want to be, but most often I am shy and back down. No more am I going to let this happen. You may be reading this and thinking, “Joe has self esteem issues? He sounds pretty arrogant to me!” The fact is I’m not. For the most part I am the least arrogant and most humble self-deprecating person you will meet, but I know when I am good at something. I’m good at lecturing, and I’m good at cooking. Yet, I always want to seek approval for what I do well. However, what I want to change is to quit seeking approval and realizing that yes, I really am good at these things. I want to keep a journal (I’ve never been good at this, so who knows how long this will work). Each week, I want to write down something that I have done that week to be more assertive. You know what, I said I’m not good at journals, but I’ve posted daily to this blog for several years now, so maybe I’m not that bad at it. In fact, I’d love it if my readers will help me with being more assertive and positive about myself. From this point forward, at the bottom of my “Moment of Zen” posts on Saturday, I will write what I did that week to fulfill this resolution. If I don’t, call me out on it in the comments section. I am always much better when I am held accountable, because no matter how tired or sick I am, I have always posted each day (except when my grandmama was dying and I just didn’t have access to the internet enough to post). I post because I know it is expected, and if my readers expect me to fulfill my resolutions, I will do so.

So, will you guys help me with this? I’d greatly appreciate it.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

4 responses to “HOW?!?

  • Cos

    Get more self esteem, but please stay who you are! You’re a good writer, I like your posts a lot. You’re having your doubts, but who doesn’t. Even with my 43 years, I’ve got my doubts every day. It’s a part of being human. It makes you human. X

  • Clare Flourish

    How many warm fuzzies do you give yourself when you do something you can be pleased with? How many wet fish-slaps do you give yourself when you do something which you later think is a mistake? Neurotic people (like me) do better when we deliberately claim the warm fuzzies, and find excuses for not doing the fish-slaps.

    • closetprofessor

      I should do that was well. I have a bad habit of not giving myself the warm fuzzies as a reward, I just think of how I could have done it better. I’m much better at the fish slaps. I plan to change that in the coming year.

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