Leaving school recently a colleague and I were discussing the challenges of our day. She was tired and clearly frustrated by some of the issues she was dealing with in her classroom. I agreed and shared that I felt the same way. She looked at me and asked, “Then how are you so happy?”
In that moment I deflected the question. I didn’t know how to respond. To be honest, I still don’t. I’ve said before that this is the hardest year of my teaching career and that was true before I had to be out for nearly two months. For a lot of different reasons this year has been hard. Exhausting. Full of what feel like failures. Straining all my skills.
Like many teachers, I also have the problem that I can see so clearly the things that aren’t going well and not the successes. During a whole class conversation yesterday morning, that was definitely happening. I kept noticing the things we needed to work on and do better. Afterwards I could see all the strengths and things that went so well. But not in the moment. And mostly we live in the moment at school because it’s nonstop. We don’t have much choice.
In spite of all that, in spite of the challenges and all the things I feel I’m doing wrong or, at least, not well enough, I am happy. To some extent that’s just who I am. My default is happy, positive, and optimistic. That’s not to say I’m never angry, sad, or worried. Just that my natural instinct is joyful. That is, I think, just luck. And something for which I am grateful.
As I searched for a picture to represent my happiness at an unlikely moment, this one being a moment of sheer exhaustion and likely some pain after a sprint triathlon, I went through so many photos that made me smile. How could I not be happy when there are so many wonderful people, events, and opportunities in my life? How could I not be happy when I am so lucky?