Esprit de l’escalier.

This is why I like to write. I always think of the perfect thing to say, five minutes after it is valuable to do so.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I went on a job interview yesterday. After several years of freelance work, I’m looking to transition away from journalism and toward teaching. In many ways, this feels like it was always my path. Every part of my job that I have loved involved speaking to people and sharing their stories, with the goal of educating others. What I don’t get in freelancing is a social working environment. There is no one to share ideas or commiserate except the dogs, who love to interrupt my live interviews by barking.

And so, I decided to switch and find a way to do the things I love most more often, in a dynamic and rich environment. Of course, I do also love some of the solitary work. Reading, painting, cooking — I enjoy all these activities on my own. But I also love to perform and collaborate. So when I work, I like people around. I am the definition of an introverted extrovert…or an extroverted introvert.

Ok, before this turns into a LiveJournal entry, let me get to the point.

For those of you who might not know, L’esprit de l’escalier translates into “staircase wit.” It’s that sharp thing you think to say as you leave the party. My life is full of those moments. Of speechifying a take down to someone who was rude, or re-answering an interview question.

In this case, the question was: Is it more important that you respect the students or that the students respect you.

I’d love your responses. Your ideas. Here is approximately what I said:

“Oh that’s easy, it is must more important that I respect the students. You have to be authentic and trustworthy. At the end of the day, it is about their experiences, not mine.”

So that’s somewhat true…but I didn’t go far enough. I should have also said: Respect is mutual, but as the adult it is my responsibility to offer respect first, and lead by example.

Thank you for letting me get out my esprit de l’escalier. What would you have said?

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