You know you’ve felt it. I feel it all of the time. I felt it a few hours ago when I read about how Chrissy Tiegen publicly enlightened Kim Kardashian that she’s a bit late in hitching a ride on the Bird Box bus. But I don’t know either one of them, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hurt Kardashian’s feelings that I’m laughing at her. So, I have no problems admitting that, yes, I am delighted to learn that one of our pop culture icons isn’t completely caught up on pop culture.
But when I feel schadenfreude about friends or co-workers, I feel evil and guilty. And, because my new job has been particularly challenging these last 6 months, I have been having those feelings a lot. Probably not as much as I’d like to, if I’m being honest. Because when I’m not deriving pleasure from the problems of other teachers, I am berating myself for all of my own failures. And that doesn’t feel too great either.
I try to be honest on the blog for precisely those reasons. I want to share good ideas so other people can try them, but social media tends to paint an unrealistic picture. I’ve had people tell me that they admire me or wish they could be even half as good as I am at teaching, and that worries me. Because I’m really not that great. The only teachers I’m better than are the ones who don’t care about their students – and that’s a really low percentage despite public perception.
But, like most people, I do have a hard time publicly acknowledging my mistakes. First, because – IDIOT! And second, because I am not trying to garner sympathy or advice. Most of the time, I know exactly what I did wrong and I’m already on a potential road to recovery.
I work with a lot of amazing teachers. It’s pretty intimidating, to be honest. But when one of them says, “Oh yeah, I went home crying the other night because of how bad my 3rd period class was,” I don’t just feel schadenfreude. I feel relief. And I am not reveling in that person’s pain. I feel terrible for her. But I also feel a little less terrible – about my teaching.
But more terrible about myself as a person.
Such is the complicated emotion of schadenfreude.
So, I just want to let you know that I am going to give you the gift of schadenfreude a little bit more often this year. Not because I feel the need to whine or vent. But because I want to give you the guilt-free opportunity to laugh at my misfortunes and tell yourself, “Hah! At least I didn’t do that today!”