It’s a good thing I’m so interested in learning about kids, because on Sunday I certainly acted like one. And I’m glad, because I felt my feelings and released them and once I’d been counseled I was filled with absolute calm. It was a peaceful catharsis and I am grateful for it.
But still. I’m nearing thirty and I had a temper tantrum.
I’ve always been a devoted and attentive student; partly because I’m a nerd and partly because I want teachers to like–secretly to love–me, and I’ll do everything I can to earn their approval and affection. Also I like to succeed and I am smart, so tell me what needs to be done and I will do it. I am comfortable with achievement, but I believe it requires effort.
I have been trying hard to not expect to be special as I train to be a yoga teacher. There are so many of us in my training class, and we are all individuals with sincere motivations for taking the training. We have plenty in common but are each inherently different, and I don’t necessarily relate to everyone in my class even though I know I should, because we are all inherently the same.
So even though I’m okay with not being particularly special, on Sunday I had a hard time watching people who frustrate me get special attention. And so I got frustrated. And then I cried like a big, big baby for a long, long time.
When I had the chance I ran for the bathroom but someone was already in there and another student intervened, coming up behind me, palms over my heart, breathing into my back and attempting to soothe me. But it wasn’t until a teacher approached us and took me into the hallway that I was able to really calm down. It was in gasping sobs that I explained my reaction and my frustration.
I was upset because my peer hadn’t done her homework. And she was practically bragging about her negligence–definitely not apologizing. I actually understand where this person was coming from, and respect her needs and choices. But she was also laughing, acting glib. And she was wasting time and disrespecting something I am working very, very hard for. And while I was unsure whether my own effort was being recognized, this person was getting a good deal of attention. Squeaky wheels may get the grease, but credit ought to be given to those who oil their own axles.
The teacher, bless her, simply repeated back to me what she’d heard. Hearing my own words and her interpretation of them really did make a difference, just like all the articles I’ve read on good communication suggest. Active listening is actually effective, and within minutes I’d talked my way through the situation and become calm.
It’s only a few days later but it feels like a lot longer. I’ve had a busy week, and last night I was workshopping with some fellow trainees and I mentioned my breakdown so casually, offhand. Most of them hadn’t even noticed. (I can believe this; it’s a crowded room and before I made a run for the bathroom, it wouldn’t have been so obvious–I was just hunched over in child’s pose, shaking instead of resting. Trying not to make sounds as I sobbed.)
And it was fine! I felt fine discussing it, they felt fine acknowledging the validity of my response, the subject shifted and that was that. No big deal. No lingering shame or embarrassment. And even more encouraging, I also assisted in a class last night with the same teacher who listened so sincerely on Sunday. I’d meant to thank her for her guidance, but the timing never felt right and then it didn’t seem necessary. It happened, it’s over, why bring up the past when we are already in the present?
So even though “public tantrum” is not my preferred mode of expression, I am glad I allowed myself to vent–my feelings had been building up for weeks but haven’t bothered me since. It is healthy to let go of what is no longer useful, and I’m grateful to the child in me for prompting a much-needed release.