I belong to a Facebook group of educators across Missouri who share tips, tricks, 🎉celebrations, and 😵frustrations of teaching during a pandemic. There was a post the other day that looked 😍positive on the surface. It stated words of encouragement on a 🌺beautiful background to the 😴tired teachers out there. I read it and thought it was genuinely kind. Then, I read the comments. An overwhelming majority of them were from teachers who felt like it was misplaced. Someone called the post a “weird, off-balanced affirmation.” Another noted that it suggested the mental health of teachers didn’t matter.😢 Someone else said that these “warm, fuzzy posts make me angry.” One teacher felt the post was an unwelcome dose of toxic positivity.😬
If we think of toxic positivity, we all know that person. Right? The one who has some 🌞sunshiny response to every worry. The one who brings the ☔umbrella to shield any chance of rain on life’s parade. The one who refuses to acknowledge that the 🌎world can suck sometimes. The one who is so frustratingly positive that you want to throat punch them.😉
Yikes! I think I seem like that person.🙋 I work so hard to maintain a 😍positive attitude that my positivity has probably seemed toxic at times. When I put a 😍positive spin on my conversations and writings, it’s because that’s my natural outlook on life. Posts like that one to 😴exhausted teachers are uplifting to me. I love them!💖 They’re expressions of care and concern. I don’t ever feel like the person who shared it intended to make me 😠angry or upset or ignored. My glass is half-full.
The software on my school-issued 💻computer needed an update last week. The IT expert took it to do the necessary work. For unknown reasons, my system completely crashed during the process, resulting in the loss of all of my data. 💥EVERYTHING that wasn’t in a platform like Google or Canvas. 💥Years of saved documents, bookmarks, desktop folders. Gone!💥 Because our IT guy is 🙌incredible, he recovered an old password from about three years ago that allowed access to my computer. He was able to update the software, and my 💻laptop is as good as new. I just have nothing old.
Was I upset? Sure- but no one was at fault. It was a technological problem that was beyond control. What was I supposed to do? Throw a fit? 😠Scream? 😢Cry? Not me- I chose to be thankful for anything that was still available and started the process of retyping documents from hard copies in my metal file cabinet. I see this as a fresh start with only the documents and files that I need. Negativity served no purpose.
Don’t get me wrong. I can and do wallow in 😬despair or anxiety or 😱fear or anger. I just choose not to live there. I have a saying when situations turn bad: If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’m doing fine.✔ And, you know what? 99.9% of the time- I’m right!😊
I don’t think that I have toxic 😍positivity, though. I’m just hardwired to steer away from negative emotions. I instinctively look for the silver lining. It might take time to find it, and I might 😢cry along the way- but I keep searching.
Others struggle to see the 🌹roses for the thorns. To those who go through life kicking and screaming, folks like me can be hard to take.😔 It’s a fine line to walk on both sides. For optimists, toning down those rays of 🌞sunshine during storms can be a struggle. We like to fix things. Our pessimist friends have logical points, too.✔ Those negative emotions need to be confronted and validated. Folks like me are often uncomfortable when things get ugly, and we want to bring the 🌞light. We just need to remember not to turn it on too bright or too quick.
It’s as simple as this. Teaching- and doing any other job- during a 😷pandemic is tough. Everyone knows that. People post 😍positive messages to say thanks for the efforts. I don’t believe that those posts are intended to bring toxic 😍positivity or 😠anger or resentment to the readers. Do any of us know what to say when times are tough? No- but I believe it’s okay to try something- even if it’s not the perfect thing.💯 Scroll right by those posts with the 💖hearts and 🌺flowers that trigger you because that wasn’t the intent. What’s toxic positivity to some is a coping strategy for others. We’re all wired differently, and that’s why we’re all so awesome!🎉
What if…our positivity is authentic? Walt Disney said, “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” If there’s ever been a complex ⏰time in our lives, it’s now. If we’re bringing 💖love to the table, does it really matter? I don’t think it ever hurts to try.💞