Loud Girl at Large

by gillis

There’s a reason this blog is called, “Gillis and Her Big Mouth,” and not “Kathleen’s Cozy Corner.” Subtlety is an art form and a medium I haven’t quite mastered. This is why I was completely caught off guard when I recently learned that something typically obnoxious that I wrote here last November hurt someone I know very deeply. I had no idea. None. So I apologized for causing this pain because I certainly hadn’t meant to cause it and I felt badly about how my words impacted someone else. Especially since I had been writing about my own limitations in the face of the uber-Mom culture I was seeing online.

I write this blog because I ask my students to write and share their writing each week and I believe that I should be willing to do what I ask of them. I have a problem with ELA teachers who don’t read and write regularly and passionately. I put myself out here for all (20 other teachers or so)  to see. I write about my life. It’s not a professional blog about teaching and learning per se, so I do feel vulnerable and I think this helps me to relate to students. These posts tend to be self-deprecating and, as my principal just reminded me, my words are often “rife with sarcasm,” although not necessarily in the classroom. Very few 11 year-olds get sarcasm, and those that do probably don’t need any more of it in their lives. In any case, this blog is about me, my thinking, my point of view, my neuroses. Its voice is perhaps more Kathy Griffin than Ellen Degeneres because I tend towards the snarky. I am who I am. And at this point in my life, I’m okay with that. What I need to work on is being okay with how others interpret my words. I need to allow others to take what they will from what I write and let it go. Even if it reflects badly on me. Even if it makes me feel like I’m a loud-mouthed jerk sometimes. I am a loud-mouthed jerk sometimes.

I hate that someone out there thought they were being made fun of in my work. I hate that they didn’t let me know directly how my words had made them feel. When I inevitably run into them, I’m sure I will feel a pang of discomfort, but that’s okay. I know what I meant when I wrote that piece and I cannot control how it is taken by others. I could try to soften my voice in the future, but I’m not sure what that would accomplish. Any time I have let fear of offense or insecurity determine things I’ve ended up with yet another pair of black dress pants or sensible shoes in my closet. Or I’ve walked out of a salon with a helmet of hair on my head. I can’t live like that. I like shiny red shoes. I like short, jagged haircuts with lots of color thrown in there. I’m a loud girl. And if you don’t like my hair, my view, or my words, that’s okay. I don’t always like myself either, but I’m working on it.