Freak(oholic)

Maybe 3-4 years ago, I read a book by Steven Levitt called “Freakonomics.”

In this, he discussed ways society had attempted to influence people ‘be better’ (at least that was what I got from it). He sited sources that proved correlation does not always equal causation, and how various ‘incentives’ were able to produce more positive changes within areas of education, criminal science, and public health. 

He called out Teachers, Real Estate Agents, Boards of Directors, and parents for manipulating “the system.” 

Maybe 3-4 years ago, I read a book by Steven Levitt called “Freakonomics.”

In this, he discussed ways society had attempted to influence people ‘be better’ (at least that was what I got from it). He sited sources that proved correlation does not always equal causation, and how various ‘incentives’ were able to produce more positive changes within areas of education, criminal science, and public health. 

He called out Teachers, Real Estate Agents, Boards of Directors, and parents for manipulating “the system.” 

So what has me writing tonight? Why am I thinking about a book I read in Boston?

After my 5th year of teaching, I realized I may not be cut out to be a teacher. Levitt mentions in the chapter about teaching that many educators felt overwhelmed. They were pressured to “teach to the test” as well as pass all of their students. During my first year of teaching in Austin, I experienced similar feelings. Many say first year teachers are “thrown into the fire,” and boy was I burning. I was at a Title I school, second to bottom in district. More than half of my students could barely read (or comprehend) the level of text in our lesson plans. Later, I figured out the kids had no desire to do anything I told them to. They were also 3rd graders with 8th grade attitudes. I seen some defiant students in my day, but never like this.

I was able to observe many educators throughout my college education at The University of Texas, but these people were more than teachers. They were mentors. They showed me how they set up procedures and routines that were flawless. Unfortunately, I lacked (and still lack) the ability to establish structure and maintain structure. It requires consistency and tough love. I was more of the “Let’s sing songs and hold hands” kind of person. I was the type that would run off to Woodstock rather than hold a picket sign outside of a courthouse to make a difference. I was not strict or hard. I was a marsh-mellow and these kiddos were burning me alive. 

I tried to get others to appreciate my strengths, being optimism and agreeability. This group didn’t have time for that. They were used to being corrected to often to care about doing the right thing. They fed off of my inability to keep order and any inch of slack I cut them was reeled out of me. I was spun. By the end of the year, I was so overpowered that they had cut my class down to the ten most misbehaved boys and one unlucky girl, in hopes of getting the better of the lot a fighting chance. Looking back, I think most of them still failed the standardized test that year, despite the school’s efforts to give them to better teachers. 

That year, no days were better than others. It always got worse. The only thing that lifted my spirits was a social worker at our school who might have been an angel. The principal told me to my face one day that I was the one responsible for letting these children fail (even though they shouldn’t of passed 2nd grade). One baby couldn’t even read at a 1st Grade level. If you look at the progression of “Reading Level Standards” (it resembles the alphabet) given to us by the State of Texas, a third grader should be reading at an “N”. This boy was on “C” til the end of the year, despite being pulled out often for intervention. Another child I attempted to teach was emotionally disturbed (literally, he was diagnosed with it), so he wasn’t with me for long once it became a safety hazard. I’m not sure that was wise to put him in my class…with a bunch of boys ready to aggravate him. A different child ripped apart my little class library in a rage. 

On the last day of school, one of the boys stole a huge chocolate bar (a gift) from my desk. The Assistant Principal had little sympathy for me…she asked if I had proof. Was the candy bar being half eaten in the boy’s desk enough? No…”anyone could’ve put it there.” Hm.

They moved me to Pre-K the next year and when I moved back to Houston, I taught 1st Grade for 3 years. Every year I barely made it by when it came to the administration’s “standards”. The only thing that kept me afloat was the ability to use my strengths to lighten up the weight of my weaknesses. The fact was, I was unorganized and inconsistent. But, I was also creative and energetic. The problem wasn’t getting along with the kids. It more so came from the issues with the co-workers that arose from cutting corners. I was constantly figuring out new ways to take the attention off of my errors. 

I enjoyed being with the kids. I loved Reading books to them. The feeling of looking at a kids work after they’ve added more words and color is hard to describe. Each student had their own special way of making our class what it was. We missed anyone who was absent. 

I strongly disliked quizzing, grading, and documenting. The kids knew that. I probably complained the most when I found a stack of standardized practice tests sitting on my desk in the morning. In retrospect, I wasn’t always the adult they needed. I loved giving the kids the floor, having class discussions, especially enjoying the bouts of laughter and genuine interest in the subjects we explored. Unfortunately, they needed someone who would stick to the plans, keep them on topic, and never fail to document the progression of their First Grade academic career. 

It breaks my heart to think that I did them a disservice. People tell me that I was probably a great teacher. Sadly, it’s been revealed to me that I’m not a natural when it comes to maintaining order and following directions. Were the past 5 years been a waste? Hell no. I learned tricks of the trade and would say I definitely toughened up (a little, don’t fight me). Sadly, putting on face at work didn’t mean I wasn’t falling apart at home. Darkness does not discriminate. For many years, I had held a good reputation for being a sweet gal from a nice town. I had manipulated my image with manners and charm. What I lacked in wisdom, I made up for in wit. My cynical side was covered up with whimsical wonder. 

Onto brighter things…I didn’t start blabbing to make this all about me. Of course it comes back to me…and maybe you too. I’d like all this to be about more than just us. In many ways, this world is always at war between us and them. When were we failed by the system? Why did they succeed and we didn’t? I didn’t grow up without money. My parents are still together to this day. All of my siblings are alive, happy, and healthy. No childhood trauma whatsoever. No socioeconomic issues here. So did I misuse the system or did the system misuse me?

I honestly hate the blame game. No one wins. All I’d like to do is what I can to help. I almost said “anything I can do,” then realized a second later I have been told many times to do “anything” and fallen short. It’s odd to think that the poor could be “entitled.” That was always a word I used for the Kardashians and Frat Boys. To “entitle: is “to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claims.” The media gave the Kardashians their fame. Another group of people, most commonly known for drinking, partying, and having a good amount of money, have personally treated me like a lesser member of society. I was about to say I have no resentments towards both groups of people, but I do. I don’t think causation = correlation, or that I am projecting my emotions onto them, but let’s see where this goes.

The whole O.J. Simpson thing was the first thing that threw me off. Kris Jenner sits there acting like it’s cool that her husband is defending another entitled celebrity (I’m not even getting into that today so don’t start that). That’s like Hillary Clinton sitting next to Bill and not leaving his ass after he obviously did some sketchy stuff. Those two things just offend me as a woman. As a human being, it’s odd how the standard of good/bad ‘reputations’ has changed. Morally, make a sex tape (Kim K) is not regarded as a victory. Kissing ass in Hollywood got her far and using the bad press to her advantage has been seen by some (E! and MTV) as “marketing genius”. Gaining attention, even the bad kind, eventually got her name around. It was like people loved swimming her shit. Sorry to be a nasty woman but geez, am I wrong? Gossiping and overdramatizing her family’s life ironically cursed them in way. They all had to start caring about their appearance because everyone kept looking at them. The media outlets gave them a title whether they earned it or not. Oddly, those people got as much attention as, if not more then, the royal family. The only difference being that people regard royalty as being respectable. The Kardashians, not so much.

Here is where “entitled” and “enabled” start meshing. When I looked up the definition of entitled, there was nothing connecting the word having to do with resources or riches. It was just a title, given by others. That prefix “en-” means that it was not taken. We authorize, warrant, and permit “entitled” people to get credit (money, attention, status) even if they don’t deserve it. We did it. How did I get back into the Blame Game?? Shoot.

I was sitting in a meeting once and a dude was venting about people commonly act entitled and expect better treatment. He talked about how wild it was that people were ordering fast food (that we used to have to go get ourselves) and treating the delivery person rudely, as if hearing the ring of the doorbell disturbed them. “What are you interrupting my Netflix binge for? Did you have to get here so quickly? Is the food cold? Did they get my order right?” That poor delivery person. I know not everyone is a bowl of puppies and rainbows but what gives people the right to treat other people disrespectfully. When I think of respect, I think of people who deserve it. Doctors, Leaders, Bosses. One definition of respect has to do with a “sense of worth,” a “personal quality or ability,” and “proper acceptance.”

Respect comes from the latin word respicere, meaning to care for or consider. It literally means “look”. [https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the-meaning-of/latin-word-4d17e801c49cfcde4934012ba2d2caa63a0bb116.html]

Respect – respicere – related to the Venetian word specio meaning “mirror”. It sounds a lot like species, special, spectrum, etc.

We stop respecting people when we enable them. I read somewhere that respecting someone means letting them figure it out for themselves. Of course, children need to be taught manners and shown how to treat others with kindness. Growing up gives us opportunities to practice settling down, self-regulating, and problem solving in many ways.

I don’t believe ADHD is a disability. If anything, it’s an ability to do things differently than others. Still, it is considered as weakness in our school system. ADHD students are being given accommodations. I don’t feel that is the wrong thing to do. I think it’s fantastic they’re finally taking off the dunce hats and recognizing that shutting off a child’s brain to keep them in their seat isn’t right. But, I have to ask, at what point are we enabling (dare I say, entitling) this group [10-15%] of kids? We we label people to be disabled, does that mean we are allowing them to possibly take advantage of resources?

When I began researching Substance Use Disorder, I came across a 2015 study that claimed about 25% of people with SUD also had ADHD.

Many people with SUD have “co-occurring disorders” such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Has our inability to acknowledge and value people who “oppose order” caused our society to become senseless? Some people believe that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder means that people are bizarre. It’s assume that if they don’t close a door 20 times or do everything perfectly, they will have a tantrum or go into a state of shock. Bipolar people are made out to be maniacs. People even relate social anxiety to being psychotic. To keep the peace, we have been taught in certain situations to assume the worst. To protect ourselves and our loved ones, we are ready to fight as soon as we threatened. As cavemen, we evolved (maybe not all of us.) We learned we could form thoughts and emotions to avoid killing each other out of instinct. We starting becoming more conscious and aware, using knowledge to empower ourselves.

I’m sure I’m not the first to say this because it seems obvious. Overthinking and arrogance threatens our people and generations to come.

When people enter into medical treatment for SUD, they may go through medical detox to get the substances out of their system. They must be monitored in case the withdrawals become physically threatening. After a few days of sobering up, they’re usually handed a Big Book. [https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/alcoholics-anonymous] On pg. 64, the author writes that there are people suffer from a spiritual disease. “For we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome we straighten out mentally and physically.” There are countless resources supporting that AA and The 12 Steps have saved lives. Many people do not wake up one morning and say, “I want to try crack today!” There are infinite paths that lead to complete desperation. There is no rock bottom or deepest depth of Hell. People who battle with SUD are physically and mentally ill, but just going through medical detox alone is rarely enough.

Origin of the word sad: before 1000; Middle English; Old English sæd grave, heavy, weary, orig. sated, full; cognate with German satt, Gothic saths full, satisfied; akin to Latin satis enough, satur sated, Greek hádēn enough.

I threw that in there because before the Big Book was written, doctors could find no cure for Alcoholism. People were thrown in mental hospitals or prison or left to die. To medical doctors, there was nothing more that could be done after physical treatment. It would take will power. Psychologists started to treat the mental aspect of the illness. It took two men, time, and “the word” to treat a disease that had been taking lives for centuries. I also believe it could not be done without a belief in God or some kind of higher power. People always say, “I’ve done enough. I’ve done all I can do.” Well that’s sad. But it’s true. We alone are sad. We might be enough by ourselves, but there’s more out there. There is freedom and joy and love. We don’t have to be inside, sad, and alone. It usually doesn’t end that way from what I’ve heard.

I was pretty religious up until puberty. Once I started getting overly emotional in my teens, my mental state was like a tornado. I went into survival mode and my ego took center stage. When I realized my emotional turmoil was toxic, I started keeping more to myself and holding everything in. I didn’t let anything go. If anything, I acted like I didn’t care, and paid for it later. That poison inside me kicked my ass later in life. It was like working for the mafia and then finding out your boss had a hit put out on you. You reap what you sow.

Great men are not born great

Of course, it doesn’t end there. When I eventually looked at myself in the mirror with a new perspective, admitted my faults, and decided to start praying again, I made a conscious decision to work on bettering my health (mentally, physically, emotionally). I believe God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The other day, he made me think hard about handouts (hence the creation of this never ending post).

Recently I had a roommate ask for a ride, seeing as she was without car. I was lucky enough to still have a car and a license, so I happily obliged. Over the next few weeks, she started asking for rides all of the time. I didn’t always have something else to do, so I would help her out. Soon it neared the end of the month and I was getting low on funds due to some doctor’s bills (and maybe some things at a vintage store I couldn’t not get.) Back to not blaming anyone…(no I’m not a hoarder or addicted to shopping) she calls me one day while I’m out getting [a very cheap] lunch and goes on to say she has to get a ride to hospital because her doctor is telling her she MUST go TODAY. At this point I had been sheepishly responding to her requests with “I can’t.” She never had means to throw me gas money, so my optimistic self figured she would get to it when she was able to get a job, when she got her license back. I figured out that was not going to be anytime soon and I could no longer commute to picking her up at boyfriend’s. So I’m on the line feeling like a jerk, she’s upset that she has to go to the hospital, I’m feeling like a horrible member of society. 

I’m broke, she’s broke. I start to understand the phrase “if your cup is empty, you can’t fill up other people’s cups.” I’m also confused at this point. On my way home from my lovely outing, I’m trying to help her find another ride to hospital. What if traffic was bad and I ran out of gas? How was I going to drive around until payday? Did she have anyone else who could take her? She responds with, “Oh, Medicare can drive me to the house.” ??? Now I’m thinking, well why can’t they just drive her there too…I get to the house. Another roommate is there and I let her know what’s going on. The roommate needing the ride comes in and says, “Oh I think it’s in Bellaire. I have to stay there for 3-5 days.” We look up the place and it’s about an hour drive across town. There’s no way I could’ve taken her there. She finds another friend to give her and ride, leaving me in a baffled state. Who’s paying for the doctor? Who’s paying for the hospital stay? Who’s giving this other friend gas money for giving this girl a lift?

Well of course, there are acts of kindness, ones for which we ask for nothing in return. Yet, after all this, I had to ask myself: When do the handouts stop helping? 

Of course we have laws in place to keep people from using and abusing the system. We have incentives for people to motivate them. When does the ‘incentive’ insinuate that we are willing to do “anything to help.” In our desperation to empower our people, we fall short. Some sell their souls to Satan. I’m not willing to do that. I have seen too many people get bedazzled, then bedeviled. Don’t believe the hype.

Fun story…when the “We Can Do It!” poster came out during WWII, to boost female worker morale. It later reappeared in the 1980’s to educate people on feminism and women’s right. Oddly enough, “the image was strictly internal to Westinghouse, displayed only during February 1943, and was not for recruitment but to exhort already-hired women to work harder. People have seized upon the uplifting attitude and apparent message to remake the image into many different forms, including self empowerment, campaign promotion, advertising, and parodies.” [Wikipedia]

People have been coerced by the media (and other dark forces) to manipulate and take advantage of the system, other people, to gain power. Thank goodness I decided I was powerless a while ago. People claim to be powerless and mix it up with helplessness. They become desperate enough to stray from their morals to maintain their status.

My boyfriend’s high school principal let the students skip class and still passed them. The football team skipped so much of school they all started failing. Pretty soon, the principal attempted to change all of their grades. She got caught and fired, then sent to preschool. Did she feel entitled to change those grades because she had worked so hard to become a principal? It was on the news, the students loved the media attention. What came of it? Well my guy a profit from selling t-shirts with principal’s face on it. He sold out in 5 minutes. People (teenagers especially) are drawn to drama. They are hypnotized by hysteria. We are programmed to protect our egos and now it has manifested into pop culture.

In college, my guy started a Twitter account that produced millions of followers. He helped grow it into a million dollar advertising platform, then was ganged up on and taken out by other company. After getting so high and falling so far, I would say he paid his dues. He later told me that he doesn’t regret any of it. Now he’s seen how people can be. It’s given him somewhat of an ability to sense when people genuinely care. ‘Fake it til you make’ it doesn’t really fly with the ones who have learned first hand how it works. When you have it all and people want a part of it, that’s normal. When you have nothing to offer, you find out what it truly means to care.

Many of us are convinced that we have to lie, cheat, steal, or manipulate in order to be successful. I’m sure his co-workers were. Though his buddy who started the company with him eventually came back and apologized for not believing his side of the story, ultimately the Twitter page got sold to some other company because of some other factors. Once you take out the foundation of something, everything else will come crashing down.

Keeping our kids safe and our elderly cared for is cliche, but it’s true. I don’t want to be force fed xanex in a nursing home or have my kid neglected in school because he’s “hyper-active.” Growing up, I felt pressured to be what I thought other people wanted me to be. I played it cool, I graduated from school, but that didn’t guarantee my success. I did not hold myself accountable. I blamed my problems on the world, on other people, and on myself. When I isolated, I stayed away from everything outside of me as much as possible. What had been kept inside of me took control of everything that was unmanageable in my life. Over time, I lost my strength. The life within me was being dissolved in a solution that had no spirit. I only made it back to God because I let him take control of what I could not handle. They say he doesn’t give us more than we can handle.

God gave us free will to make a choice in times of trouble. We can ask for him to show us a way out of madness. It may not feel instant like a shot or a pill, but he promises to provide peace if we are willing. To me, it means if I am willing to own up to anything I have been keeping hidden, he can cure the sickness of my secrets. If I am willing to accept consequences for my thoughts and actions, I will learn how to better carry out his will. If I am willing to do what it takes to maintain a standard of living that holds me accountable, I will respect others who do the same. I may not expect everyone to live how I live, but I will not judge their way of life or compare it to my own. I will not condemn any man to death because he is a sinner. “Thy will be done.”

Yeah I know, I’m cheesy

There’s also the popular line from Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true.”

Knowing the “true self” is a popular philosophical topic. It is said that they worst thing a person can do is turn away from who they are truly meant to be. The “False Self functions to defend against injury and puts up an armor its attempt to try and achieve a sense of perceived security.”

[https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-knowledge/201902/the-true-self-and-the-philosophy-one-divide]

[http://theconversation.com/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-true-self-81817]

I used to think getting angry was a sin. I realized later God got angry a lot (Noah’s Ark, hello…) and he expected us to be perfect.

People under the influence are like zombies. I was watching live PD today and the officer had to shoot a guy running toward him with a knife. He kept yelling at the guy to get on the ground. The only reason he got on the ground was because the officer shot him in the stomach. Struggling to crawl toward the officer, he yelled, “Kill me Motherfucker.”

Twisting what we have been given — free will, ability, understanding — to take people down and convince them that they want to die…that is fear. There are people so sick that they don’t even think about death. They’re like the living dead. They go on day to day slowly killing themselves with substances, sometimes taking life from others to survive.

Extra Fun 🙂

I went to find a Shakespeare line to go with all this and ended up finding a few.

“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts” -As You Like It

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool” -As You Like It

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue falls” -Measure by Measure


“The miserable have no other medicine but only hope”.”Some rise by sin, and some by virtue falls.” -Measure by Measure

 

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. -Twelfth Night

“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better” –Twelfth Night

Hell is empty And all the devils are here.” -The Tempest

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” -Hamlet

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” -Hamlet


Published by Shea

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