I haven’t blogged in a of couple weeks because I’m a little embarrassed to say what I’m about to say. But one of my mindsets when deciding to blog was that I would be as transparent as possible with my faith, my life, and my career. So I’m going to stick to it and suck it up.
Previously I wrote about “What to Say When You DON’T Know What to Say”, and how you might not always have an answer but you can always have a response: Prayer. Well now I’m going to talk about what to say when you DO know what to say. You know… those moments when you just want to speak your mind and maybe you do, and the words come out like my friend Tyler refers to them as word vomit, and then it’s too late and you just can’t take it back.
As a teacher, there are moments when you just want to spew what’s on your mind, but you have to tell yourself that you need to set a positive example. There have been two occasions this school year thus far where unfortunately, I spewed. And frankly, I’m embarrassed. I could not believe I said the things I said. Let me paint you a picture.
It was our first day for the students to have their iPads. One of the groups in my class was having problems with the app we were using. I kept saying that if it wasn’t working we would fix it later, just look at someone else’s. As the lesson went on they were still bummed about it. I would repeat myself and I could tell (and they probably could too), that my tone was changing. And not in a good way. The fact that the app wasn’t working for this group of students was stressing me out, because it was stressing them out. How sad is that?! Finally, I heard one more student say something about it and I spewed. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember how I felt after I said it. Low. And bad. And convicted. As the lesson went on I went back to their table and I told them I needed to speak to them after class. The bell rang and I put on my big girl pants and I said, “Hey I just wanted to apologize for what happened. You guys didn’t have control over the app not working right and all of the kinks were starting to bother me and unfortunately I took it out on you guys. I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”
The second moment I spewed in class was about a month ago. Every teacher has that one student. The one who just says whatever he wants, whenever he wants, even when people aren’t listening. No filter. So class is about to start and THAT student says something, I must’ve already been irritated because when he said it I just reacted, and I said “BOB! (made up name). JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND AND ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO SAY IT! (And then came the word vomit…). TRUST ME, IF I SAID WHAT WAS ON MY MIND ALL OF THE TIME, SOME OF YOU PROBABLY WOULDN’T LIKE ME!” Oh. Wow. No WAY.. I could NOT believe that came out of my mouth. Talk about hypocritical!! And I looked around and some of the students were like, “Oh snap Ms. Dolen! Got em!” And others had big eyes and were probably thinking, “Am I one of them she’s talking about?!” Which I’m not even sure why I said that because I absolutely adore my students. It was just the first thing that came out! Some thought it was funny, like a burn. Others weren’t sure what to think! Even I was confused!
I never apologized to that student. My flesh didn’t want to. But I’ve been playing it out over and over in my head the past couple weeks and I realized I do need to apologize. He’s probably forgotten about it. But I haven’t. And I’ve been convicted to humble myself and say I’m sorry.
Word vomit. We might know what say, but we don’t always have to say it. It can really pierce someone. I wasn’t the one pierced by the words, but I was definitely pierced by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You can bet on it that tomorrow I’m going to pull that student aside, put on my big girl pants that have been packed up for a few weeks, and tell him I’m sorry.
My best advice is this, exactly what I told that student in my moment of word vomit: Just because you know what to say, doesn’t mean you always have to say it. The old saying really is true: Think before you speak.