Interactions with Narcissists: An Observation of Educators at _______ High School

Lately, I have been a quiet observer at work. I have stopped talking and started paying attention. Listening intently, taking it all in, and not judging. Just marinating in the interactions of others, for I myself have refused to talk for the sake of talking. If I could pull off the whole Maya Angelou silent for years after a life altering experience thing (by no means am I making lite of her plight), I totally would; I would not allow a word to come from my mouth. And like Maya had Bailey, I would make just a single confidant privy to my thoughts via minimal verbiage.

So, you may be thinking, why go silent? Why not be cordial and speak when spoken to? The answer is simple my friends – because I am surrounded by an archetype of characters that I label as “crazies”. The crazies don’t listen, they hear only what they say or think, and ignore you. Completely self-absorbed, utterly uncaring, and fixated on their own problems, they ask “how are you!?”, with the intention of receiving little more than surface level answers.

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This is a person on the verge of a mental breakdown. Notice the hands on the temples, which indicate the brain will shortly self-destruct.

They lack empathy, and this contributes to theirdistorted world view and closed minded perspective. I have been honest, at times, to a fault. Being careful not to divulge too much for fear of judgement. Any answer other than “I’m fine” is too much for their brains to compute.

I understand formalities and propriety; they are the crux of the American brief encounter exchange. I just don’t see the point in asking a person “how are you doing today?”, only to get an answer that is not superficial and shallow. Talking for the sake of talking is filling a space that needs to be left unbothered by that frequency of soundwave. Nobody is okay all the time. There have to be uncomfortable moments; those times are the impetus for change and growth. I am not done growing, and I think we all need to change a little from time to time, so why in the hell would I always respond with the dry and completely false answer “I am fine. How bout you?”

Have you ever asked Siri something and she doesn’t really get what you mean? She goes to the web for an answer that has nothing to do with what you asked, or she says “I’m sorry. I didn’t get that”. All the while her voice is pleasant, there are minimal inflections and her cadence is robotic. I am not shaming Apple, I am just saying she is a robot, and she can give robotic responses. The algorithms and programing that went into her existence undoubtedly took time. She was made to fill a void in the lives of people that need some assistance. She can even carry on a conversation and give you responses that have connotations of sarcasm. The people I spend a minimum of 40 hours a week with are a little like her, they are not hearing what another is really saying, so they give an answer that has no meaning. The repetition of exchanging words is done thoughtlessly, and often, the exchange may be better off not existing at all.

My favorite sort of interactions are the ones in which I talk and get a nonsensical response. Sometimes that response comes in the form of unrequited advice, the likes of which prove to me that they do not really know who I am. I would love an “I’m sorry. I didn’t get that” answer from them when they are unsure of what to say. Instead, they come off as phonies that have no intention of really developing anything beyond a weird encounter that we both have to live with – or at least that I have to live with because of how deeply unaffected they are by anything I have to say.

Here’s a secret, if you are in a conversation and you find you have nothing to say because you weren’t listening, or you cannot relate, then express that. What is the harm in saying, “I can’t identify”. Drop the façade and be who you are. If people don’t like it, then they don’t have to talk to you. Stop forcing these strange and strained conversations. Stop giving advice if you were not asked for it. Trust me, you will not implode. In fact, it may make life a little easier. Imagine talking to someone and learning something! Imagine talking to someone and not trying to compete! Imagine talking to someone and them listening! What a wonderful world.

My earnest attempt at really seeing the people I interact with for who they are has led me to this conclusion: my fellow educators (meaning the ones in my building with whom I work) tend to be narcissist.

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Did she just make static? 

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Oh, no she didn’t! (Finger waving and neck rolling in progress – please hold)

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Gasp!

 

 

 

 

 

No shots have been fired teachers, calm down. If this is not you, then it’s not. But to the ones who are in the school in which I am gainfully employed at the present moment, you know who you are – actually, you shouldn’t because the internet is a big place and I’m keeping this all as low key as possible.

Continue reading Interactions with Narcissists: An Observation of Educators at _______ High School

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The Veil Has Been Lifted

The department I work in is loud. Most of the people that staff this department have been allotted a space to work in room 666 of the building. I don’t know how anyone manages to get work done in that room filled with teacher’s desks, students, and educators. I use a satellite office that is a few hallways removed from all of the chaos that is in room 341. There are only 5 of us that occupy that space and it’s a slice of heaven in the otherwise hellish building. I have been forced to utilize space in 666 for a few days because the school decided that the satellite office should be used for testing – a practice that I despise in its current state. I only needed one day back in that space to be reminded why I decided to remove myself from it at the beginning of this school year.

One cannot help but listen to the incessant ramblings of those gathered around the common area where food is exchanged along with stories and, often times, unsolicited advice. There was a discussion happening that caught my ear yesterday. It centered on a topic that I like to gain another’s perspective on. The insights from outsiders (and by outsiders, I mean people not in my head – mainly me) is something I really contemplate when I leave these conversations. What intrigues me most are the opinions of seasoned vets. These people have been teaching since I was in high school. Hell, some of them were my teachers. Anytime one of them says something that deals with the current state of their classrooms and the students that make up their rosters my ears perk up. They always go back to the year that the downfall in the caliber of student came. It’s talked about like a day of reckoning. Interestingly, they always say that 2005 was the first year they began to notice this change. This is the year after I graduated from high school.

The shift in the shared characteristics within the student pool has caused many of us to question what is happening with kids. What’s going on at home? What are they thinking? How will things turn out for them in the future? And then, there’s my ultimate question, how can I continue this job when I no longer enjoy the act of imparting knowledge?

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You often hear older people make comments about how things were better years ago, and I always ask myself if I have just fallen into the pattern of comparison and diminishing. Do I have that distorted “old-foggie” syndrome that I once thought was inherent to anyone who was old (like over 50 years-old old)? To check myself and my world view, I talk to students to gauge whether or not I have aged out. There is still a connection I can make with quite a few of them. I have asked if they notice that their peers are disconnected. I even talk about specific behaviors – like mindless web browsing to find answers. I have been assured many times over that it’s not just an observation I have made with no merit. They have noticed it too. Sometimes when I make an observation about a behavior or an attitude I am bewildered by, the other students give me a stare as if they are in a trance, and then there’s that spark in their eye. They think about it and can point to friend that does the same thing or they admit to carrying themselves in the same manner I have called attention to.

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The perils of being stuck in high school

That dreaded blaring alarm rings, a hand reaches out to grab the cell phone that’s emitting the treacherous sound. Heavy sleepy eyes peak at the time as if the person who set it the night before cannot recall the hour it was meant to go off. Maybe there was snooze time allotted, and that button is pushed, or maybe the thought of rising and getting the shit over with permeates the mind. Legs swing over the side of the bed, feet hit the floor, and a tired body lurches towards the bathroom.

Teeth are bushed, bladder is released, perhaps a shower is needed as one was not taken the night before. Next comes coffee and getting dressed. Can’t forget to do something to that hair if you’ve got it. All of the things required for the day are picked up and out the front door the feet walk with necessities in tow. Transportation gets us to the doors of the place once hated with a deep passion – school.

Walking through the hallways, familiar faces are noted, and eye contact is made but no one speaks – not even a wave. Lifeless bodies are sprawled on the floor of the hallways as students try and catch a few more zzz’s before the first period of the day begins. Others runs to each other to talk about a scandalous outfit, or something they did the night before. Yucky pimple faced couples are pushing their bodies together and kissing with hand holding ensues. A few sit with notebooks out, they are copying the assignment from another kid because they were too busy to try and do the work themselves. They couldn’t tear their eyes off the TV and they had to binge watch a few more episodes of that show they are obsessed with at the moment. Hop scotch is the game that has to be played by the walking feet with necessities in tow. No one excuses themselves as the violently push past the adult walking through the halls.

Walking quickly, the destination for phase one of the day is reached – the classroom. There are always at least three kids that made it there before you; fucking show off’s. They don’t part their lips, and they never offer to hold anything even though there is a struggle going on with the traitorous keys, capped coffee cup, and arm full of bags containing papers. The door is finally opened, and everyone goes to their seat. They don’t bother readying themselves for learning because it’s 7:30 AM and they have to check in to see what’s happening on the internet. Who is posting to their story, what’s trending, how long until the class is over (yes, before it even starts).

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