Say that you love me

An unexpected thing happened during class yesterday.  A student asked a question, which was a bit of a tangent from the discussion at hand.  I began to answer the student with great enthusiasm, since it's something that I get really excited about.  While I was doing so, another student stopped me.  He said "I don't want to learn whatever you're teaching."  It was a very small thing, but it was very deflating.  It was rain on my parade.  It was hearing a child excitedly discuss all of the rides ey looks forward to riding at Disneyland and then telling em that ey's not really going after all.

I was shocked.  I was stunned.  This was unprecedented.  A student had never cut me off mid-stride like that before.  I was hurt.  I was furious.  Instantly, a dozen different ideas rushed into my mind.  I could tell him to leave the room.  I could reprimand him for his comment.  I could grade his upcoming test harshly.  I could simply ignore him and continue on.  For several seconds I just stood there, with my mouth still open, and thought all of these things and felt all of these feelings.  I didn't know what to do or how to react.

For the roughly 10 or 15 minutes that remained in that class and during most of my class immediately following, I thought deeply about this incident.  It perplexed me.  Why should I become so angry at a student for being honest?  Tactless, yes.  Impertinent, yes.  But not unjustifiable.  At any rate, even if it were something completely rude and even entirely untrue, I should not become angry over it.  Why did it bother me so?

I often say that I am very confident.  And I think I really am.  People who know me would probably attest to that.  I am a fairly confident person.  Especially as a teacher.  I'm very confident when I'm teaching freshman level math courses.  But I think that perhaps sometimes my confidence is not self-confidence, it is other-confidence.  I mean to say that my confidence isn't always something intrinsic within myself--that I am confident merely because I believe myself to be qualified--but that it is extrinsic and based on how other people view me--more importantly, how they treat me.

Let's go back to my example.  I'm talking about something that I think is incredibly fascinating.  I know much about it and I think it's really cool.  Then a student cuts me off and says not only that it isn't fascinating but that he has no interest in being told about it at all.  This is a blow to my confidence.  I want my students to love me, even when I'm teaching them something that isn't on the curriculum for the course.

I want everyone to love me.  I surround myself with lots of friends.  I like having friends.  I have never felt like I have too many friends at any point in my life.  I enjoy being social with other people.  I enjoy having friends.  And I want them all to love me.  I want them to love everything about me.  I want them to love the fact that I'm gay and that I'm in a relationship with an amazing man.  I want them to love the fact that I'm atheist and think that religion is garbage.

I want people to think of me as smart, kind, loving, caring, wise, respectful, and every other positive quality.  When I am truly honest with myself, I like being smart.  In fact, I like being smarter than other people.  I like being taller than other people.  I like being nicer than other people.  I even like being fatter than other people.  I like being a beacon for other people.  I like being the shoulder to cry on.  I like being the friend people come to for advice.  I like being the confidant.

I hate being criticized.  I hate people suggesting that I'm less than perfect.  I hate being told that I'm less than what I think I am.

So what does that say about me?  That I'm selfish?  I suppose so.  Ego-centric?  Yes, I think that's the definition of the word.  So, what's the next step?  Where do I go from here?  I don't know what to do about it.  I'm not sure what course of action to take.  But isn't being aware of it and admitting it a good start?  I think that it's empowering to be aware of things such as this.

Also, I love the song (although this is my first time seeing the music video--it's weird).