What I love most about my job is that it allows me to reinvent myself over and over. Every semester, I get a clean slate, a fresh chance to make a first impression (if we ignore ratemyprofessor.com, that is). Being a consummate pessimist and perfectionist, however, I also find that with this opportunity for reinvention comes an enormous margin for doubt and my good friend, self-hatred.
So. Yesterday, the first day of classes, began with a lot of clothes wrangling, the trying on and inevitably flinging in the floor of various shirts and pants, off, on, off, on. The tugging, the adjusting, the fidgeting in front of the full-length mirror.
Finally, after a whirlwind of searching in vain for Eliot's tennis shoes, we are whisked out the door amid kisses from Eli, I with my mug of coffee in hand, Mog with his bulldozer clutched in his.
The screen door catches my shirt as it shuts behind me and for a moment I am stuck. I pull my shirt free and examine it quickly for any sign of a tear. I see none. *whew* Crisis barely averted.
And so the day begins. My first class goes well. During my second class I lean absent-mindedly against the new SmartBoard, popping the pen tray off with my butt. Smooth. Very smooth. Then I can't get the computer to work, so I turn it off and then turn it back on and let it reboot, waiting for the longest minutes of the world, turned towards my class babbling to fill the silence. And then sort of tapping my foot and dancing back and forth through the room, going, "Sooo. How are you guys? Good? You good? Great. Me too." Nervous giggling from the freshmen. Much hand wringing from me.
In the moments before class, after class, and during long self-conscious intervals like waiting for the computer to reboot, I second guess myself. All of the life-changing decisions made during the heat of the summer, luxurious days stretching out before me, seem suddenly wrong. I feel students' eyes on my tattoos, my piercing. I stand in front of them on display, and can't help feeling that through their eyes I look like someone too old to be trying so hard. My calves are fat and my blue jeans undermine my authority.
But the day diligently heads toward the afternoon, and at last I am home again, comfortably watching Bob the Builder with Mog. Eli comes in from work and grabs me in an embrace. He lets go, steps back. "Did you know you have a hole in the back of your shirt?"