The countdown has begun. In four weeks, I will graduate with an MA in British literature and a year and a half of experience teaching freshman composition.
To my professors, past and present: I love you. Over the past 10 years, you have all shaped my life in ways you could not possibly have imagined. You opened up new worlds to me, new perspectives, new philosophies. You gave me your guidance, and some of you have blessed me with your friendship. I don’t think I ever really appreciated all you do, all you go through, how I abused my position as a “good” student, and how much inadvertent disrespect I showed you. You have my eternal gratitude, and my deepest apologies.
To two beautiful students: You are exquisitely intelligent, socially conscious, and eager to become more self-aware. I have no doubt that you will experience much more pain, frustration, and rage than your classmates—but you will also find more pleasure, satisfaction, and joy in the world. I was incredibly fortunate to find you both in one of my first classes; you have helped keep me sane. I cannot thank you enough.
To the students who don’t give a shit: You’ll never know how much entertainment I’ve gotten out of your papers. My friends (academics themselves) and I have laughed long and loud at your willful ignorance, your laziness, and your insolence. You abdicated any right to respect or privacy when you repeatedly spat in my face. But I can understand your indifference. Accepting the status quo (that means “the way things are now”) makes it so much easier to get to the fun stuff, like the after-game kegger, or your sorority’s theme parties, or the latest episode of whatever vapid teenage-young-adult-beautiful-people-sex-scandal television is on this season. (Sorry—with homework and teaching, I work 16-hour days, so I can’t keep up with the latest titles.) Asking “Why?” is work. You have to start thinking. And thinking is hard. And it’s scary. And it will rob you of all the pleasure you get in life. So just don’t. Whenever someone asks you to think, turn your iPod up loud and start downloading porn; that should counteract the effects. And if anyone says you’re stupid, you just tell them that sticks and stones will break your bones, but……ooh, look, something shiny!
To those of you who remain: I know I don’t have the teaching experience that you have had, but I don’t think I can stay on to develop more. I’ll admit it freely: I’m just not a very good teacher. I care too much and I don’t care enough. It may be cowardly and selfish—or it could be the most intelligent move I’ve ever made—but in any case, it’s time for me to go.
I’m sorry. Thanks for all you have given me and others. I wish you nothing but the best of luck.