All good things must come to an end.
My life has been full of endings lately. I’ve told some friends privately about the wrap-up to my disastrous interview, but not everyone. If you are a friend reading this here, and I didn’t contact you, please forgive me. It hasn’t been easy to talk about, and this was not appropriate fodder for an emotional Facebook post. May I even make a request? If you are a personal friend and you want to say something to me about this that alludes to the actual real-life people involved as opposed to a general wisdom or insight on the situation as I’ve written about it here, please make it a private message, rather than a comment.
Here are the background links on the situation:
- What’s an Excellent Teacher (non-tenure track) worth?
Thank you to all who took the time to comment, and, in several cases, discuss the situation and how it might be handled with me in depth. The wrap-up was that the relationship with my significant other has been difficult for a while now. Perhaps that was the main reason he was reluctant to go to bat for me or to even negotiate even a delay of his start date with this university. That ended the relationship. In some ways this has been very hard. In some ways it has been very easy. I am angry with him for not even giving a token protest over the way I was treated, when he was the reason that I was in that situation in the first place. That is absolutely unconscionable in my mind. That speaks, too, to the difficulties in the relationship predating these events.
Endings are always hard for me. This is no exception, but thus far, I think this time I’m earning an A in breaking up. There is no turning back. There is no fixing this. Nothing to do but face what is and move forward. I’ve been taking very good care of myself. Exercise. Good food. I like having nuts in the house and on my salads again. I’ve reconnected with friends that I haven’t seen in a while. I’ve tried some new things. I’ve asked for help, and I’ve gotten help. I’ve had some bad days, but I’ve also been surprised to have quite a few good days. It is nice when someone else’s mess moves out of your house, and the only ones you have to deal with are your own. And, my gosh, it is nice to realize that so many people care about me.
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Second, the semester comes to an end. I am glad to get done with the grading, but I am also sad to realize I won’t see most of my students again. Our final class meeting was last Friday for the final exam, which, for my class, is the remainder of the project presentations and pizza. And then a wrap-up.
I was pleased that one of my faculty colleagues came and stayed for the entire class period, even participating in writing out the good points of the presentation on the slips of paper for my students. Another came as long as she could.
The presentations were all good this semester. One or two wobbles here and there, but that’s to be expected. The students all gave competent professional presentations geared toward an audience of non-experts.
I asked the students what they learned. A lot of LaTeX and Matlab, which is always to be expected. A student even said something like, “I never would have believed this at the beginning of the semester, but I will use LaTeX in the future. It is a good tool.” Time management and how to approach projects. I think someone even mentioned the steps in mathematical modeling, in particular, making assumptions and simplifying when approaching a problem.
I teared up trying to do my wrap-up. I told them that having many students from prior semester taking the course is always an honor, especially since this is a purely elective class. Waking up a student with the line “Now we are going to talk about sex.” Working with students on LaTeX and Matlab. Listening to students do peer review and thinking, “This is really going all right.” The excitement of seeing the final projects come together.
Last, I gave them a few things that I wanted them to take from the course that don’t have all that much to do with mathematical modeling.
First, from the Efficient Portfolio Frontier, pay yourself first. Once you are out of school and start working, take money out of your paycheck before it hits your checking account and put it away for savings and investment. Pay yourself before you pay anyone else. Save for a rainy day. I told them how having savings saved me from worry when I needed to quit my software job without having figured out what I was going to do next.
Second, writing is a skill. Practice and you will improve. You can do it.
Third, you will be a different person at 40 than you were at 20. Your life will have high points, but it will also have some real defeats. Keep your honor, grace, integrity through it, and you will get through it.
I should have told them something that always comforts me when things go really wrong. Your worst moments will always end up being your best stories. Once they stop hurting so much.
Last, if you have the opportunity to do a kindness, take it. You will regret hard words you said to someone else. The kindnesses you will be able to hold close to your heart when things go wrong. You will regret the times you passed up an opportunity to do or to say something kind. So don’t pass them up. When you see them, take the opportunity.
This certainly relates to my thinking on the first item discussed in this post and my regrets.
My students did take the opportunity to say kind things in those final portfolios. About me and about each other. I am looking forward to sharing some highlights with you.