I don't know why we always tend to be hardest on ourselves, but I know I am. Perhaps it's because I can see all my own small li'l faults and failures and weaknesses. Perhaps it's because I know the private, messy me as well as the outward, polished and glossy me. Perhaps it's because I know that sometimes when I try, I'm not really trying 100%, and sometimes I say I'm trying, but I'm really not. Whatever it is, I think I judge myself a lot, and I don't think I'm alone in this.
So for the longest time I've thought I'm a bit of a slacker. I get my work done but I also seem to goof off a lot, at least to me. I scramble to meet deadlines at the last-minute and often end up a day late. I ignore my paperwork, and things get piled up until the situation is so dire that I have no choice but to do my filing, because the pile is getting so high that it's becoming the Leaning Tower of Pisa and everything's going to collapse all over the floor at any moment. It just feels like so many things which should get done aren't getting done in a timely manner.
But this semester I started teaching a new subject (after four years of teaching the previous one) and suddenly I am realising that I'm not a slacker. I've had this erroneous view of myself all along. I work very hard and I do a lot of things, just that I do them in pockets or bursts -- and then I have moments where I do stop to play a game on my iPod Touch or look at Facebook.
I didn't realise how much stuff I do until I started showing my colleague, the one who heads this subject, what I had prepared for the course. She was amazed. I guess she hadn't expected me to develop a lot of stuff on my own, because I'm new to the subject, and also because she had passed me a bunch of materials -- handouts, worksheets, notes, and so on -- which she and the other teachers have been using. But I found much of it very general; I like to develop stuff which exploits the material in the textbook and takes it one step further, so that my students can see the application of whatever principles or skills we're teaching. It also helps my lesson to flow more smoothly.
Previously, I was the head of the subject I was teaching, so I never had to show my work to anyone. I would distribute whatever materials I'd developed to my fellow teachers of the same subject, and of course roll it out to students, but everyone seemed to take for granted that such things would be done and such materials should exist. But now, showing stuff to my colleague, and hearing her amazement, I realise that I actually do a lot of work!