Several months ago I was sitting in my office trying to get some work done in the few moments I had between meeting with students, meeting with community partners, prepping for class, or filling in the seemingly endless pablum that is administrative forms. I was tired – exhausted to be honest. I’m pretty sure it was mid-semester, and for numerous reasons I felt completely spent and worn out. I was all sorts of negative energy. Point is, I wasn’t having my best day.
I don’t remember the time exactly, but I do know it was later in the afternoon when one of my colleagues knocked on my door. The knock immediately had me tensed and annoyed. I assumed that any knock or email or text or tweet or instant message was the harbinger of yet another thing I had to deal with. And I just couldn’t deal.
I looked to the door and suppressed the woe is me attitude. I smiled, hopefully sufficiently masking any sense of annoyance I may have had. Despite the situation, I had the wherewithal to recognize that my colleague was not responsible for my shitty mood, and as such, should not have to suffer it. Instead, I took a deep breath, and prepared myself for a discussion about statistics or something equally nerdy.
It’s amazing how things can change in an instant.
My colleague wasn’t there to ask for help, or give me something new to add to my seemingly endless list of things I needed to do, nor was he there to nerd out on statistics. He was there to tell me that the School of Computer Science wanted to put my name forward for a University of Guelph Faculty Association teaching award. Of course, I instantly felt an incredible sense of douchebaggery for immediately tensing up and feeling annoyed in response to the interruption. Internally, I was shaking my head for allowing myself to respond in this way.
And then his words hit me.
Gobsmacked does not begin to describe my response. To say that my mood did a 180 doesn’t even begin to fully describe my reaction. Yes, it completely reversed direction, but the positive energy that came with it was magnitudes larger than the negative energy I was leaving in the dust.
Long story short, numerous people were contacted and asked to write support letters. All of them did. And then I learned in early May that their nomination was successful – I have been awarded the University of Guelph Faculty Association Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching for the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences – but I wasn’t sure if I could say anything. So I didn’t. And not saying anything sucked, because hidden behind the award was the work of faculty, administration, colleagues, and students who felt it necessary to spend their precious time drafting up incredible letters for my nomination. I haven’t seen all of the letters, but I’ve seen some of them.
Feels. So many feels.
Honestly, I don’t know how to put into words what this means to me. I don’t really know how to say thank you to those who spent their time writing the nomination, because those two words really don’t begin to explain anything remotely close to what I feel. More often than you’d probably imagine, I spend my time wondering what the hell I’m doing, wondering if I shouldn’t be working harder, or contributing more, or being more academic, or a better teacher, or if I’m even in the right job. And I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but there are days where I question if I’m doing more harm than good.
And then something like this happens – not the award, per se, but the fact that so many people cared enough to go to the trouble to nominate me – and it reminds me why I wanted to get into this profession to begin with. It makes me realize, despite the crappy days, that I’ve got the most amazing job in the world. This is home, and I honestly couldn’t be happier.