Lancing a boil

Tonight I feel as if I will drown in the bile that fills my mind. I must write it down, lance the boil, and try to quiet the voices that will not let me sleep.
I will probably publish this. I’m not sure why. A cry for help perhaps. A suicide note without the horrific consequences. A scream into the darkness outside and in. It feels whiny and childish. The number of folk who read my blog is minimal and I know that all who do read it are supportive of me while I fight the demons in my head. I have no pity for myself and so I suppose I seek some from an external source. If you consider me pathetic, please don’t comment.
Tonight, the phrase “You have never lived up to your potential” is on repeat inside my head. I have realised that this phrase is just about the mantra of my life. There are not many days in my adult life that I have not scolded myself about this.
Ever since my Year 12 results came out in January 1985, I have understood this to be true. I could not really cope with University and merely attained a passing grade – and then only in a Bachelor of Arts – the “Claytons” degree. I could not have coped with a real discipline – medicinal, engineering, law, or any genuine professional pursuit. I demonstrated potential at primary school but have consistently lacked the mental discipline and fortitude to ever do anything real or genuinely academic from that point forward.
This is a very painful realisation.
I wanted to be a teacher but even in that practice, I am a mere flim-flam artist.
I have taught English but lack familiarity with Shakespeare, any poetry, or any decent novelist. I have only read two books by Dickens and I have found most poetry to be impenetrable. I can put together words in a nice fashion at times but even in this, I am a failure. I have tried to write stories but they remain unfinished – testament to my inability to discipline myself to do anything too difficult.
I have taught Maths but this is just bullshit artistry. I know some formulae but if the problems step outside the mundane, I struggle to solve them.
I have taught religion – the ultimate irony – but was an atheist before I even started. I often pretend to have a grasp of some theology and scripture but in reality, this is akin to saying you are familiar with the works of Mozart because you can hum a few bars of “The Magic Flute”. There is no depth to my claim.
I enjoy Geography and history but have nothing more than a first-year Uni level grasp of a select few geo-political situations. I know a little bit and fill in the gaps with bullshit. Teachers in this subject are more common than sand – because it is easy. It is tthus almost impossible to get a job in this area.
I worked teaching Information Technology for years but this was almost a textbook case of “those who can – do, those who can’t – teach”. I was a competent teacher in this area but again, there was no depth to my knowledge.
Maybe I enjoy working with kids because they are the only ones I can impress with my flim-flam. They think I am smart and that makes me feel good. Adults see through me and understand that it is mere bluff and bluster. Thus, as a teacher, I have always enjoyed being in a classroom but never actually made a friend in a staffroom. Bullshit will only get you so far.
Now, I am unemployable as a teacher. I have not worked full-time since May 2003. This gap means that if I were ever to return to teaching, I would be competing for jobs with first-year graduates. All those years and all those classrooms count for nought. I know this because I have tried to gain employment but my lack of current practice means my experience is irrelevant.
I was “gunna” attempt a Masters in Education next year but found out that I cannot change my teaching methods – and thus I would be on the same rung as a kid who has finished his or her Masters – except the school can pay them at a lower scale because they are a graduate. Guess who is more employable?
In most situations, I consider myself to be inferior in practice or in knowledge to those around me. I know that this is common. The only time I know I am right is in situations where people express racist opinions. I know that this is wrong and it gives me a chance to get up on my soap box and get cranky at them. I have realised recently that all my bluster will never ever change the mind of a bigot. I am wasting my breath. So – I still care and so I write about it but I have no hope of anybody actually changing their bigotry – so this is a pointless exercise.
Same with religion. I don’t care any more. Religion is irrelevant to my life but relevant to others. I now know that saying anything about it just annoys people. So, I won’t say anything.
I have been writing for 40 minutes now. I think I have spat out most of the bile. The bit that is still stuck in my head is the bit about not living up to my potential. I think I want that phrase inscribed on the urn containing my ashes – “He never fulfilled his potential”. It defines me.

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4 thoughts on “Lancing a boil

  1. Hi Robert,

    Have to say that post was brilliantly written, touchingly vulnerable and honest and one of your best so far! However, as you are so hard on yourself, I would love you to go back over each sentence and imagine your young son saying it to you, and what you would reply to him (and mean). Interesting eh? I would imagine 80% of people on this planet think they are not living up to their potential so welcome to normality! I think you have had a few lightbulb moments there…. I really hope you continue to write.

  2. Difficult read. Why? Because despite your best efforts through honesty (I don’t doubt for one moment you truly believe every word you have written) and a genuine flare for the written word and beautiful expression I CAN SEE THE ROBERT POTENTIAL. How utterly fucked up is that? I love your flim flam! A lot of identification also which makes me feel less ‘fundamentially inadequate’ so thats good.
    The journey you are on is a challenging one for sure. Keep writing keep sharing and I/we will keep commenting and loving. X

  3. I wrote such a good response to this: full of boils, encouragement, alternative career suggestions and lots of puss. Then the page renewed and it was list in time like tears in the rain. C’est last vie.

    • I have learnt to write everything, including this, on Notepad or Word before copying and pasting to the site.
      It is a pity that your comment was lost – you are one of my role models – a respected educator taken seriously by his peers. Even while at I.C.E., you were universally admired. You are able to look back on 25 years of teaching and all the wonderful memories that this would entail. Your words have value to me.

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