The essence of me, as distilled by my wife and my high school sweetheart

I was speaking to a professor and researcher who are investigating the possibility that people who hated school make better teachers. This is a theory that I have long espoused, and I was both shocked and pleased to hear that others share my belief.

In talking about this research with friends over dinner, I was asked why I didn’t like school, and for a moment, I was stumped. There were a multitude of reasons that led to my negative opinion of school, but I had difficulty summing them up in one sentence.

Then Elysha did it for me.

“Matt doesn’t like to be told what to do.”

And in those nine simple words, I believe that my wife described the most fundamental aspect of my being.

More than anything else, I do not like to be told what to do.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I became a teacher, a writer, and a small business owner. In all three professions, I enjoy an enormous amount of freedom when it comes to how I perform my job. I may have principals and editors and business partners supervising me to a degree, but most of the time that I spend working is done without direct supervision.

There is no one telling me what to do.

I was telling this story to Laura, my high school sweetheart, and though we haven’t seen much of each other in more than twenty years, she wholeheartedly agreed with my wife’s summation, adding this one addendum:

“This is why you are the master of your destiny. You can do anything you want because you refuse to do anything that other people want you to do.  You published those books because you didn’t listen to people who told you that it would be impossible. You just like to prove the opposite is true, no matter what the opposite may be.”


She’s right, too.  In fact, between the two of them, I think Elysha and Laura have established the guiding force in my life:

Don’t tell me what to do. I am a contrarian who is just looking for a chance to do exactly the opposite of what you want me to do.

Some might argue that this philosophy amounts to the mental framework of a five year old.

I agree or disagree depending upon your opinion.

Either way, it’s interesting (and a little disconcerting) to listen to other people distill the essence of my being into a few simple sentences that you perhaps understood but could not articulate.

While I’d like to think I’m a slightly more complex being, I think that they are right.