Thursday, January 2, 2014


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."

"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? 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.


Will said...

Before you can quit seeking the approval of others in the wrong way, it's necessary to obtain your own approval for what you do and how you live. My early life was nearly destroyed by s disastrous lack of self-confidence.

Jay M. said...

This almost reads like my life story. Especially the part about talking yourself out of things. Fortunately(?) I manage to do this before I spend money or other resources. But sometimes I just suck it up and go do it! It's not always easy, but I do know that lessening the extent that I care what others might think of me being gay, for instance, has helped a lot. As Will said, you have to have self-confidence before all else, and after what happened to me in 2007 that shook mine to its very core, it's a been a chore (and probably a whole new book in psychoanalysis) to get back near the place I want to be.

You can do these things. Check out those links I sent you, I'll send a few more for unis.

Peace <3

silvereagle said...

GO FOR IT!!! Whatever it is, a job, a man, or both, go for it....if you do not do it yourself, you will never move out, move oh, experience something new....So, GO FOR IT!!!

If it is a mistake, then learn from it.

Michael Dodd said...

When I was in the monastery and responsible for training new friars, I drew up a list of expectations the first year I had the job. Things like: they will be present for all community acts of prayer, they will fulfill their house duties, they will prepare for class, etc. At the end of that year, I kept the list but gave it a new title: Hopes. Then I drew up another list of expectations: people would fight, people would get bored, people would make mistakes and so on. The community and I knew that these things might not be what we wanted to see all the time, but they were normal and could be expected. As a result, we were much more relaxed. And, lo and behold, more of the Hopes got met that year, too!

RB said...

I'm glad that my comment was the catalyst for a new post :-)

Most everyone wants to be happy. How to get there?? That's the question with the elusive answer. Sometimes I'm not sure I know what will make me happy. Sometimes what you think will make you happy actually won't.

1) Figuring out what makes you happy, and then 2) making the necessary changes, is a big challenge for all of us.

What else do you need besides a new job? I think almost every gay guy has self-esteem issues. How to resolve them?

Thanks for this post. It really humanizes you and I liked that. Much more interesting than an essay on some 19th century author. :-)

Amanda said...

It's never easy to do/try new things. And talking yourself out of things? That's me! LOL. As a matter of fact I do the same exact thing when I see a job announcement. It's hard to leave the comfort zone sometimes. I know you can do it. And, we all have self esteem issues over something. Just remember that you are not alone and can do what you set out to do. This year will be better than the last. :)

David Jeffreys said...

Perhaps one of the answers is to start networking -- joining in, in little ways. Network around your career colleagues and perhaps find out about a new job. Find LGBT groups that meet about something that fascinates you -- maybe camping, hiking, history book club, cooking club, etc. You have so much to offer to any of those types of activity. Bring along your own expertise, and mine the expertise of others. We don't have to hold you accountable, because as soon of you love doing these new activities, you will be involved. I met some of my best friends in a gay hiking group. And now I am doing the same thing in blogger groups. If at all possible, do attend the second annual blogger palooza in Lewes, DE in March.

You get the idea -- put yourself out there. Sometimes, we get to comfortable in our status quo with blinders on!

Coop said...

Joe, it doesn't hurt to try things. (Job applications, dating, whatever...). If you give it your best effort, that's all that matters.

I don't "do" New Year's Resolutions. I believe that they set one up for failure. "Not only do we cheat on our diets BUT..."
And I'm beginning to wonder why people bother waiting. If one wanted to change something about their life on December 31... start then.

Mike said...

Definitely apply for those jobs that come up - I have been on an app spree applying for any and everything that is of interest to me.

I don't think you seemed arrogant in your post - you seemed very real.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone else...go for it......whatever it is a job dating. Whatever.....I have spent my whole life having great expectations and dreams and not following will work out