Dear Self-Help Guy, You’re Right I AM a Second-Rate Human Being!

There was a period in my life, long ago when it seemed like a stellar idea to spill my guts in writing and post without editing for free to any social media site that would have me. I was younger then, and slimmer, like so many ‘average women’. You could say I’m a dreamer. And I’m not the only one.

You are one of those dreamers, generic Self-Help Guy. It’s impossible to come on Medium without encountering you. Perhaps other, stronger people can meet you without diving deep into your impossibly shiny, infinity river of self-improvement tips, tricks and hacks. The listicles of thirty, forty, even fifty ways to save myself from averagedom. If only I’d met you when I was in my twenties or even thirties! My life might not be the jacked-up mess it currently is.

I’ve been a cynic in the past, I admit. But now, approaching fifty, and in dire need of a solid kick in the ass in every improve-able area of life, I feel ready to ‘let go’ and ‘let God’ do his work in me through your sound, concise and scientifically researched approach to achieving success. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? On a forty-thou take-home a year teacher’s salary, it sounds bloody fantastic about now.

I read your article about how the most important hours of the day are between 5 and 7am. Your writing convinced me, which is a miracle because I’m originally from Europe. Okay, Scotland, which really really wants to be in Europe. Where I come from, getting up before 7am is a barbarism of a different kind. We’re just not down with it. Which I realized must be why the U.K. is in such a bugger-all mess over Brexit right now. Refusal to get out of bed before 7am.

It all suddenly made sense!

I downloaded your Morning Routine Checklist, Self-Help Guy, because I want to reach Peak State. I explained this to my boyfriend last Saturday night, who naturally had some doubts. Yeah but you’ve always said it’s barbaric to have to get up before 7am. Why are you even thinking of doing this?

Peak State babe. I’ve been letting myself be average too long. We been in this holding pattern too long.We need to reach for our dreams! Don’t you want to be a millionaire?

The plan was set to go in effect on Monday morning. There was no stopping me, as is often the case when I get a bee in my bonnet about something. On Sunday night though, we stayed up late (which at 47 years old means after 10pm) watching the Grammys.

Cardi B is a woman who has obviously reached Peak State; gyrating in an incredible black peacock outfit, while plain-old average me, sipping ‘Nineteen Crimes’ and inhaling veggie chips on the couch was rendered bug-eyed with stunned admiration. Lady Gaga seemed temporarily to have reached Peak State and then moved far beyond it into some kind of violent seizure activity on the stage. Average me (who is quite compassionate) worried aloud for her mental health and then went back to literally ‘vegging’.

I have no memory of Monday morning. I do however have a written record in my diary. I didn’t rise at exactly 5am. But right there in my loopy blue handwriting there’s an entry:

Monday, 2/11/2019

Okay Self-Help Guy. I’m up you son of a bitch. Now what?

and then a quote from Mary Oliver:

What will you do with this one precious life?

❤ ❤ ❤

Tuesday, 2/12/2019

What should I be focused on today?
Who do I need to show up for today?
How can I be most helpful?
What needs my attention most?
What can I uncommit to?

Then in a desperate scrawl:

We need … coloring pages, crossword puzzles, word-searches etc. to keep ’em entertained.

This is a reference to the practice MAP testing which was about to take place at the elementary school where I teach that very day. Luckily, it was canceled. Yay!

❤ ❤ ❤

Wednesday, 2/13/2019

What are my top three priorities for today?
Hmmm … bit confused about priorities.

Important: Get the kids through practice MAP testing! Starts today!

#1 Goal: To write
#1 Problem: Fucking MAP practice testing.

Thursday, 2/14/2019: Valentine’s Day!

The reason I want out of this particular teaching job is caseload inequity. I want fair working conditions. I want the burden shared equally between all the special education teachers in our building. I want a room where the heating actually works. Out of my 20 students at least five have serious behaviors. I can’t keep up with the paperwork, even through I sometimes work an hour or two hour every weeknight to catch up. Help, I’m drowning! I achieved my dream of going to school to get my Master’s. I worked my ass off with a baby in my lap and now I’m living and working in the school system as an indentured servant with $100,000 in student loans.

My kids absolutely HATE PRACTICE MAP TESTING!!!

Friday, 2.15.2019.


It seems that I had a bit of a mental breakdown on Friday. I didn’t make it into work, even though it was only a professional development day. I stayed home with my daughter, because in all my determination to reach Peak State, I had completely forgotten that her teachers had professional development too. I had not set up her daycare arrangements in advance. Epic mom-fail that could not be remedied by any amount of weeping/gnashing of teeth and/or desperate calls to the young man who runs the daycare at the local JCCA and who doesn’t have a family of his own yet.

I had not set up her daycare arrangements in advance.

Thus proving beyond a doubt that I truly AM a second rate employee, mother and all-around-average individual in general.

But you know, Self-Help Guy, I feel like we have a bond now that goes far beyond just the regular writer-reader dynamic. You’re a nice young man, and unlike the kid at the JCCA, you have a family of your own.

I think you’ll give me a second chance, maybe even a third and fourth. I still have my Peak State checklist. I think your ideas are excellent, and as a teacher, I’m big on the fact they’re science-based. You clearly care about the people you write for. If nothing else, please consider this article an homage to the ever-present human desire of us average, second-rate people to better ourselves; the reason we’ll never stop reading and writing self-help articles on Medium.

❤ ❤ ❤