long time no write

I disappeared for a while, but I’m back. I disappeared because I needed to be really living here.

School has been okay. I think part of my struggle has been with feeling like it should be my first priority during my time here, since it is my source of income. But after a lot of thinking I have come to the conclusion that my main focus does not need to be teaching, and that I can think about it as, primarily, where the money comes from. This does not mean that I don’t put effort and energy into it, but that I can stop feeling like it is my number one responsibility, and therefore begin to focus on things that are truly important to me, like making art and getting to know this city and making connections with the artists here.

As a perfectionist, I have always had this difficulty. Anything that I do I think I have to do perfectly. This can be a good thing, but it can also be very limiting because it ends up stressing me out to no end to think that I am not doing well enough at something, when it is possible that I do not want to be putting the entireity of my energy in that one thing because if I did I would not have any left over to do the other things I really value in my life.

This happened for sure with this teaching job. I only work 16 hours a week, and my role is, by nature, limited. I am told to take groups of 8 children and, speaking only in English, help them do their workbook activities. This means that the majority of what I do with them is regurgitation of what is in their textbooks: vocabulary, stupid songs, the names of objects. I do not find this in any way stimulating for the children, and so my first few weeks I was very preoccupied with trying to find ways to make it exciting for them. And while, yes, I can do small things to change the way they learn and how they are told the information they are expected to digest, I cannot, in anyway, revolutionize a system that is not looking for a revolution.

The natural question is–when are institutions LOOKING for a revolution? Never, really, is my guess. Revolutions happen when they are necessary. But frankly, and it still pains me to say this because part of me still feels like I’m giving up prematurely, to teach English to these children isn’t the real reason I am here this year. I am here for myself, for my personal growth and development. I am here to make connections, to meet new people, to get a sense of a country different from my own. I am here to take over streets with my art, for my eyes to eat up everything I see. This job is simply a means to an end. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be responsible and take my job seriously, or that I won’t do my best to effect the lives of these children, to make them excited about learning. It just means that I won’t be spending my spare time researching alternative methods of teaching them the difference between I and me.

I cringe right now–because I fear the reactions from the teachers in my life. I doubt that my mother or my aunt would ever take this approach to teaching, but I think that is because for both of them, teaching is a passion. And, maybe one day it will be that for me too. But not here, and not now. And I am at peace with that because I have realized that I have much bigger fish to fry.

When I was first accepted into this program I was incredibly excited because I thought that Madrid could be a land of opportunity for an emerging artist like myself. And then when I arrived, I was so overwhelmed with figuring out where to live, and how to live, that I forgot what my main purpose was. But I’m back on track, and absolutely determined to make my time here worthwhile. This means that in the next few weeks I will be checking off the boxes on my to-do list. Namely, I will be focusing all of my energy that isn’t spent on teaching on myself, my art, and getting to know the art and artists of this city.

This is not the time to sell myself short and pretend that a city this big and full of people isn’t worth my time because it isn’t New York. Fuck that. It’s MADRID. And Madrid is a city full of life, and full of people living and breathing and creating. Its up to me to find them, and I will be using every resource available to get connected. I will be contacting everyone I know, and many that I don’t know, in order to forge a community for myself here that consists of  more Spaniards and more artists.  Right now, my main group of friends consists of other Americans, and if they aren’t Americans, they are also Auxiliares. That is fine, good, great. But it is not enough, and it is not why I am here.

I am ready. Ready for everything. Ready for so much more.

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Comments
One Response to “long time no write”
  1. monica says:

    Be kind to yourself; you have only been in Madrid for 6 or 7 weeks, right? You, like most of us, need time to adjust to a new life, a new place, new everything; now that you are a bit settled, know the city a bit, know some people, have a sense of Madrid, are living it a bit…….now you no longer need to put energy into starting life; now you can begin to direct the life you started in the direction you want it to go—the art scene; be patient, though; as long as you keep moving in the direction you want to go, know you are doing well; what is important is to not stop or get stuck; just keep the energy moving forward.
    just a note on “personal growth and development” which you mention above. You are obviously growing; asking questions about ones life, becoming aware and taking steps to change ones approach, feeling, action, etc. is growth, it is development.

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