perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.

perspective

Cranky Pants

This chick is cranky and opinionated! At least I admit it and at least I am comfortable publishing my cranky, emotional and somewhat opinionated stories and rants. Knowing full well said stories are read worldwide….a fun fact I am super proud of.

Fun fact: this past month our readership skyrocketed. Not sure why but it did. Cheers to all you newbies out there reading along. We adore you from afar.

This post is also not about something current in my life that should make you wonder if you know me and are reading this. I wrote this a while ago and just opted to publish it now. A blast from the past so to speak, However it rings true when I hear or experience life through my lens and thus I figure it was time to share my thoughts.

I am at a loss at society today. One can look at the craziness on the news and see all the horror the world has to offer. But I am in control of what I watch and what I am exposed to as an adult. And for that reason alone I rarely watch the news it’s just too depressing.

As a parent sometimes you just open an email from school only to see how vile people are. Offering your kids drugs at school, writing death threats on the bathroom wall or even worse. Times are changing and bad news travels faster than the speed of light thanks to the internet.

The yellow school bus kids ride isn’t even a sanctuary anymore. Bullying and isolating happens on the daily to those who are different. I often shake my head and think who raises their kid to be ugly to others? It’s unfortunate as our kids still have developing brains and don’t have the foresight needed to tune out the negative vibes like we can as adults. It’s just awful to watch in some instances.

I choose to focus on the positives in life. A few positives: I have my good health, my good friends and an amazing family. I have a nice roof over my head, a reliable vehicle to drive and I am fortunate to be active in the community. I volunteer when I can and I make a concerted effort to impact others each week in a positive manner.

So what could possibly make me cranky? Life makes me cranky. All the takers in life weigh on me daily. Takers are near and far. Takers are people or entities who want to take things away from you that you work so hard for.

Takers sometimes come disguised as friends but I say frienemies. The friends you tolerate that you don’t trust as far as you can throw them. The ones who are nice to your face but then throw you under a bus the first chance they can to elevate their personal image. I’m sure everyone has at least one in their life.

Or maybe it is your boss at the office who tells you to your face that you are the best thing since sliced bread then turns and tells your coworkers how incompetent you are. Maybe it’s a friend of the family or neighbor who pretends they are supporting you but then sweep in and snag your valuables. Valuables can be defined differently for each situation. And then there is the big taker, The corporate greed monster. The big fish in the little sea. That entity who likes to sue people with limited resources to take out the competition. Or maybe it’s a strategy the big company has thinking your firm doesn’t have the capital to defend a frivolous lawsuit. Or maybe that big company thinks they can bully you with the threat of a lawsuit. The last scenario is just like the school bus bully but the kid grew up. He is still just a bully. Different disguise but still a bully.

The list goes on and on but the moral of the story is life is tough. Whatever your battle you must find your sunshine and let it light the way to new beginnings. Learning this simple life lesson in your early and formative years with help you navigate the adult world that is harsh and full of takers waiting to prey on you whenever one sees a moment of vulnerability.

Ignore those in today’s society who judge you for having a mask on or off. For those who roll their eyes when you say you want to enjoy the fresh air outside. For those who are so wrapped up in corona that they want to bully others online or in person. Just mute them!

This is yet another post from the vault. An oldie but goodie. A fresh corona spin added and here we are at the end of the story, for now.

Remember to watch your back somebody is always on your tail no matter what stage of life you are in. Don’t stay a cranky pants. Keep evolving. Never stand still. As long as you are looking forward whatever is in the rear view is the past. And nobody can change your future but you.