An introvert’s reflection on living in a hate-filled extroverted world by Stacey James McAdoo
Public speaking and interviews with the media are two things of which I’m not particularly fond of. That sentiment may seem odd considering that I am the Writeous Poetry Club Sponsor, a Communication & AVID instructor and now a state Teacher of the Year who prides herself on helping students to find and use their voices. Still, I am very cautious and apprehensive about lending mine.
Although the term was coined in the 70s and isn’t a new concept, lately there’s been a lot of talk about the imposter syndrome. And while I don’t doubt my accomplishments, impact or intellect, in some regards I do feel like a bit of a fraud. I am an introvert with little patience for small talk, invasion of personal space, people who linger and relationships that lack authenticity, reciprocity and purpose. And because of (or maybe in spite of) being forced to live in an extroverted world, my public self is pretty even keel. And that’s where the fear and sense of fraud comes into play. Thoughts of “if they really knew what I truly think then I doubt that they would still want to hear what I have to say” and fear of my words…my intent…and my life being scrutinized (or livelihood jeopardized) make me very hesitant to freely speak.
For as long as I can remember my thinking has been different. Until recently it matched my voting record — which is almost always in the minority. I would like to say that our country’s history has taught me to be cautious. But the truth is, the present is just as responsible. Three days before being named the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year the word “snowflake” (a derogatory slang insult meant to imply weakness) was hurled at me over a friggin’ parking spot with such fierce anger and dangerous urgency that I could taste the hate as it spilled from his mouth. He might as well have called me a n**ger. Scratch that. He did. That night I was appreciative that as he jumped out of his pick-up truck and ran towards my window that ugly words were all that he was armed with.
Every day there are reminders that the world outside of my circle is not filled with the same love and nurturing environment that’s found inside my classroom. I am a very blue dot in a very red state, teaching in a very brown district that’s in the midst of a very green fight. So yeah, public speaking and interviews with the media are two things that I’m not very fond of.
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*Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (affectionately referred to as 2019ATOY), is a 16 year Oral Communication instructor, AVID Coordinator and sponsor of the spoken word collective called Writeous Poets from Little Rock, Arkansas. She teaches at the historic Little Rock Central High School where she is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap.*