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kalrbing's avatar

Can I have a heart of gold and still survive in this world?

Asked by kalrbing (251points) December 27th, 2016

My father and I have been going back and forth about not being nice in this dog eat dog world. I am 27 years old and I have been on my own for 6 years, now. I teach middle school math about 3 hours from where my parents live. Initially my parents did not want me to leave my hometown, but knowing that I wanted to make it on my own I felt some distance would make me grow and learn. I have had some ups and down in life, but I feel all people do. My biggest thing was realizing that I have truly been sheltered and inexperienced. While I can still have my parents guidance, I feel that I needed to be able to face the world without having my hand held. Throughout these 6 years I had a hard time adjusting to teaching, but have stuck with it and finally LOVE IT!
I spent my first 3 years teaching at 1 school. My first year was horrible, as most first year teachers’ are. I was pretty immature and made mistakes. The next two years were nowhere near perfect, but much better than the first.
I decided to go to a larger district during my 4th year. The school I ended up in was ROUGH. The year was tough, I had to deal with some thieves and breaking up several fights. While the school was a pretty toxic environment for the kids and teachers, I still grew relationships with my kids and got great accolades on my student engagement and teaching abilities. Within this year, I also had an apartment fire that resulted in me losing everything but my life. I saw the obstacles and the fire as God telling me to move on from that place. I attempted to get back to my first school, which I spent three years, but they had no math positions available. I settled with a nearby school system and a few grades lower than I wanted.
That year, I had to adjust to the needy issues of an elementary student. While I did not quite care for this new obstacle, I still went in and worked hard for those kids everyday. My principal at that school was very selective with who she treated with respect. She was best friends with a few of the teachers. Long story short, a majority of the staff felt disrespected by her, but could not do anything about it due to her close relationship with the district superintendent. This was stressful, and I lashed out several times after being talked to like a child. Through all of the drama, though, the principal always said, “you are such a great teacher for the kids, but…” She trusted my instructional skills, but still had personal problems with me. Interesting enough, she called me in her office a few days before he year let out and professed to me that she was for me not against me. I can say that she was a great instructional leader, but did not treat her staff with respect. While I was basically given an in to finally be respected, I could not look past all of the drama throughout the year. I had to leave that environment.
This year, I have gone back to my first school, and everything has come together. I enjoy going to work everyday! My students love coming to my class and have shown that they are learning though our school benchmark data. The administration is always talking about how much ch I have grown and how glad they are to have me back.
I say all of this to say, I am finally in a beautiful place in life. Although, my parents keep saying that I could be so much further if I had listened to them about so many things. The main thing we bump heads on is the fact that I have a good heart. My dad is constantly telling me, you cannot give these people a chance. I understand completely that this is a rough world and you cannot trust everyone, but I am still a good hearted person. I watch myself and still go through some trials, but that’s life!
Should I completely change my approach to life, because my parents don’t believe I have done things right? Or is it ok to know that life will have obstacles and that everything that is not a blessing is a lesson?
I love my parents dearly, but they make me feel like I have failed at life because I have not followed every step that they wanted me to take? I listen to the things they tell me, but sometimes choose what makes sense to me. At times I’ve fallen on my face, but I feel stronger from actually knowing from my own personal experience. It is hard to take some things for face value….

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11 Answers

Sneki95's avatar

“Can I have a heart of gold and still survive in this world?”

Yes, but beware: people love gold. If they immediately notice it’s golden, they will try to take it from you. Hide it from the crowd and keep it to the ones who already have their own gold.

Mimishu1995's avatar

It sounds like you are a very considerate individual. This world needs kind, compassionate people. It doesn’t appear to like it, but it needs it. You just need to know who and when to show your kindness. You and the world don’t change for the better by turning bad.

Your parents may just want the best for you, but they aren’t the ultimate guide of your life. You are 27 years old, you are an adult. It’s time to figure out by yourself what suits you the best. You’re right, life has obstacles. What counts is whether you can stand up after falling down, and you do.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Both posts above are very good advice.

I think you’re doing just fine. The twenties are all about preserving who you are while dealing with the hard facts of ths world. It’s a very tough time. Better to do it in your twenties, than later, though. You’re doing just that and, so far, you’ve come out the other end with your heart of gold intact. Good on you.

All I can add is that when you are tempted to take your father’s advice—as you interpret it———you should spend some time thinking about a hardened you at 40, a calloused sonuvabitch who is so afraid of getting hurt that he will no longer stiick his neck out for anybody. An incorrible hardass, a teacher who only punches the clock and will no longer go the extra mile because it hasn’t paid in the past, a spouse who won’t go the full depths and heights of affection because it bares you uncomfortably, a parent alienated from their own children because you buried your inner child so long ago you’ve forgotten who he/she is. A goddamned prick.

Ha. You really don’t want to end up being someone like that. That is a very lonely, unsatsfied life and mediocre existence.

It really does get easier. Right now, you’re just building the muscles to carry it off.

John Glenn, a truly amazing person who died recently, said this:

“If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.”

He was talking about people who managed to preserve their hearts of gold.

That’s the kind of person you want to be.

janbb's avatar

You sound terrific and like someone I’d like to know! You are clearly not a pushover as evinced by your not staying with the damaging principal and by wanting to make it on your own. As others have said, your parents are not the only fonts of wisdom and part of the task of adulthood is differentiating yourself and your values from theirs. You sound both like you know how to take care of yourself and also of others; a delicate balance.

I too, have a heart of gold and though it’s been bruised at times, I wouldn’t trade it for a heart of lead. Trust your gut – it sounds like a good one.

kritiper's avatar

You can still have a heart of gold and survive, you just can’t allow yourself to trust ANYONE!

LostInParadise's avatar

Let me ask you a question. Looking back at what you did, and without knowing how things would turn out, is there anything you you think you should have done differently?

It seems to me that you acted appropriately when faced with adversity and have ended up with a satisfactory life. I can’t tell you how specifically to answer your parents, because I don’t know what their advice was.

Zaku's avatar

So much introduction!
Few things in life boil down to an A vs. B question with a direct answer. However, in this case:

Should I completely change my approach to life, because my parents don’t believe I have done things right?
No.

Or is it ok to know that life will have obstacles and that everything that is not a blessing is a lesson?
Yes.

I love my parents dearly, but they make me feel like I have failed at life because I have not followed every step that they wanted me to take?
A not uncommon perspective. Many of your students may have similar relationships with their parents. Parents generally try to do their best, but often communication is so broken that people don’t get each other very well at all. If you asked your parents that, they probably wouldn’t think they were doing that and mind not realize that is your experience of them. You could try telling them you know they mean well, but this is how it feels to you, and see what they say, as a starting point.

I listen to the things they tell me, but sometimes choose what makes sense to me. At times I’ve fallen on my face, but I feel stronger from actually knowing from my own personal experience. It is hard to take some things for face value….
I think it’s rarely a good idea to do anything that doesn’t make sense to you. Better to fail and learn than follow advice you don’t understand,

As for ”Can I have a heart of gold and still survive in this world?” – um, yes, but look at what you mean by having a heart of gold. Read up on “co-dependency” and “enabling”. There are some people who get stuck in messy broken interactions with others which are not good for anyone, and trying to help them can backfire if you don’t understand what’s going on there. There are also some mindsets that are overly cruel to people in need. It’s worth developing an understanding of those things so you can strike a healthy balance that is appropriate in each case.

kalrbing's avatar

I want to thank you all so much! So often, I get the feeling that I am doing it all wrong, from them. i will make personal replies when I get more time.

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flutherother's avatar

Remember too what Khalil Gibran said…

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

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