Editor’s Note: This blog entry was written in August of 2010. So, if you found it through a Kelle Hampton Google search, read it and lose your shit, know that you are losing your shit over something that is old news. -MO2
Reading a discussion thread about yourself is not easy. Knowing that I’m being discussed, do I click on it? Do I want to know what is written about me? Eight years ago, I made the mistake of reading what was written about the real me on Rate My Teacher, a hideously cruel website where students anonymously air their grievances. It took me weeks to recover from the hateful things teenagers had said about me (some of them fair criticisms, but not phrased in constructive ways) and I vowed to never log on again.
And speaking of fair criticism, that is pretty much what I’ve read about me and my little blog. If I come across as bitter, it’s because I am a little bitter. I own that. My nickname in college was “Bummer Girl.” My therapist gave me a book called “Positivity.” How’s that for a hint?
One thing that rang particularly true is that I am an attention whore. GUILTY AS CHARGED, MADAME. I’m sure that this is meant to be derogatory. No one ever calls you a whore and means it as a compliment.
For 14 years, I was the middle of 3 children. Then my mother remarried, and I acquired a stepsister. Four years after that, my father and his second wife added yet another daughter to the family, making me the second-oldest of five girls. Attention whore? You bet. I would do anything for attention. Through trial and error, I discovered that being pessimistic and contrary was the most effective tactic, and I stuck with it for years. My oldest sister was hilariously funny to me. I particularly remember her referring to something as “louder than when Dad steps on Legos in the morning,” and thought, “I want to be witty like her.” My desire to be noticed among five girls took the path of darkly funny.
I also loved correcting my friends’ grammar. I will be forever grateful to Aaron in high school who informed me that it was irritating and offensive and that people hated me behind my back for it. I stopped doing it to my friends, and made it my career.
Similarly, I learned over time that biting sarcasm in the classroom, while satisfying to me, is hurtful to the students. Somewhere out there in the world is a young man who had the courage to tell me that he thought it sucked that I was so mean, and I believed him. I’m softer now, but I still won’t let you get away with SHIT in my class.
And I get to be a little mean on my blog.
Today I visited with a former student. One of the many things we discussed was high school girl drama. Ever the teacher, I told her that it doesn’t end with high school. Girl drama takes many forms. Somehow, I have managed to make a nemesis out of another blogger (okay, it was completely intentional). To me, she’s like the prom queen, and I’m the drama nerd. She hangs out with the football players and is the darling of all the teachers. All I ever hear is how PRETTY she is and how SMART she is. She wins all of the awards and has her picture all over the yearbook. It’s all just high school bullshit. But I need it somehow. It feeds some part of me. Maybe the part who is still hurt that the cheerleading captain never condescended to speak to the likes of me except during the week she was running for homecoming queen.
There was only one thing to do. Be very, very slutty and date all of the guys she liked. Worked like a charm (high-five, Chelsea Handler).
So, I guess that DOES technically and figuratively make me an attention whore. Any writer who seeks to be published could be considered such. Narcissistic too. You must have a touch of both in order to believe that anyone other than your grandmother wants to read anything you write (although my grandmother didn’t). And while I don’t consider myself a “mommy blogger,” I do certainly exploit both my child and my husband for material to put in my writing.
Constructive criticism can be transformative. It can cause a person to stop belittling her friends or hurting her students. Talking shit can be cathartic and hilarious. And there is room for both.