I skipped one of my classes yesterday. I skipped a class last week too. Both times I came home, said fuck my meal prep plans and went and got me some chili cheese fries from Krystal's (many of you know that is my comfort food). A lot of times I'm just tired. I feel consistently exhausted and constantly overwhelmed, but I continue to press on. Balancing two teaching jobs, full time doctoral study, and writing both for this site and my books takes a lot, and I admit it is probably really taking a toll on me. But for whatever reason, I don't know how to stop any of them.
I cannot stop writing. That's just not going to happen. I have been waiting fifteen years to get to where I am now as a writer as far as publishing goes, and I am not giving up on my dreams for anyone or anything. What's more is the validation, the fulfillment I get from presenting my work to other people and seeing how it affects them. I love that people enjoy my writing, I love that it asks the hard questions, and most of all I'm glad that the younger (and older) people who are exposed to it get to see themselves reflected in the work that I do, whether its the Elementals or my short fiction. I will never trade the joy that my work brings me; it's one of few things that always makes me happy.
I don't really wanna give up teaching either. Not like I really can: one of my teaching jobs pays the bills and the other gives me a sense of fulfillment (no points for guessing which school/job is which). Teaching was something I never expected I would end up doing. All throughout college I proclaimed that I would never teach; it was never part of my plans. I ended up teaching because of my grad school teaching assistantship, but rather than give it up I just kept at it because I like to think I'm good at it. Teaching, especially teaching at an HBCU, I feel like gives me a greater purpose. It allows me to challenge thought processes and motivate students who have not had those opportunities to be motivated before. I can help them to see themselves and teach them to recognize their worth and their intelligence. I get to talk them through difficult situations, offer them a space to vent, cry, cuss, or just hang out (all of which have happened multiple times in my office), and just be there for them. That's an invaluable position and an immeasurable gift; I don't wanna give that up either.
So that leads me to school. Full disclosure, I never really wanted a PhD. I expected to get an MFA and just start writing, making a living with royalty checks and speaking engagements. Even after I got my Masters, I feel like I only applied to doctorate programs because that's what I was supposed to do. When I didn't get in to PhD programs immediately after graduation I was upset. Not really because it meant bad news for me getting a PhD but because I wasn't used to failing so spectacularly (I didn't get into ANY of the maybe six or seven schools I applied to). So when I moved to Georgia and started teaching as a job I thought I could be okay. Then I realized that in order to have (a little more) freedom in the job and to have some measure of job security I would have to have a PhD, and then I was back where I started. Honestly I feel trapped by this shit most of the time. Teaching and writing give my life purpose, but in order to do either of them well I have to waste all this time sitting in classes that I don't care about, doing work that doesn't really apply to me, and jumping through hoops to please backwards administration and that damn Ivory Tower (just because I'm at an HBCU doesn't mean the Ivory Tower's shadow isn't still cast over my school). I mean, maybe if I was learning about being a better teacher, a better writer, talking more about Black Speculative Fiction, or SOMETHING I wouldn't hate this shit so much, but nope. I'm up here talkin about evolutionary psychology. Most days I wonder how the fuck I got here, and though I don't plan on quitting (It is just not in my ministry to give up on something before a completion point) that wonder really makes me question my place in a lot of this shit I do.
So I know that by now a lot of you are probably wondering what I'm complaining about. Academics will say that I don't want this bad enough and talk about how I owe it to the Ancestors to get all the knowledge I can, and maybe they're right. I do think that get knowledge doesn't just come from the classroom, and though I do think that everyone should have education I'm not so foolish to think that means everyone should be in school, especially graduate school. Regular folks will see this and probably say that these cushiony ass problems are ones they wish they had, and that I should shut up and be grateful. Maybe they're right too. It is not lost on me that I have certain levels of educational and class privilege, but given that I'm not trying to make myself out to be oppressed at this exact moment I don't think my complaining affects other people's problems in any way. I don't even know if I'm depressed, though that is a possibility. I just know that I'm exhausted, and that sometimes its important to let people know that. I recognize that most people think I'm a machine that has no issues and always does everything amazingly, but that's not true. I think it's important to show that everyone does get tired every once in a while. We are all human. But humanity doesn't pay the bills, nor does it make dreams and goals come true, so by the time you read this I'll be back at work molding young minds, doing class work for my program, or trying to get some enjoyment out of my writing, and the mask will be uncomfortably back in place.