This Halloween season I have been thinking about vampires. A lot! While I do miss the good old days of waiting for the next Twilight movie to come out. Those are not the vampires that I have been thinking about. I have come to realize that vampires are not just people with sharp fangs that avoid sunlight and are out to drink your blood. Instead the vampires that I am talking about are those people and things that have a way of sucking out all of your energy and leaving you feeling depleted and lifeless.
I first came across this idea in Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. Here Austin Kleon talks about what he calls The Vampire Test.
I have been using this activity recently as part of a professional learning experience that I have been conducting called Teaching Inside of the Box. Here’s how it works.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR VAMPIRES
Think about the people and things that you interact with that leave you feeling mentally, emotionally, or even physically drained. List them. Don’t be afraid to write this down. Even in RED! These are the things that you really want to avoid if at all possible.
2. DO YOU NEED THESE VAMPIRES?
There are some vampires in life that you simple can not avoid, but most you can. Do you really NEED to spend that much time on Facebook? Do you really NEED to serve on that committee? Do you really have to interact with that person? Figure out if the vampires on your list are absolutely essential to you. If they are essential, make note of this and be aware when you find yourself in dark spaces and out of the sunlight. Also, you are probably never going to be able to change a vampire back into a human. It doesn’t work that way. So, it is best not to try.
3. IDENTIFY YOUR SUNLIGHT
Now in your life there are people and things that you interact with that leave you feeling mentally, emotionally, or even physically charged up. Let’s call these your sunlight. They are the exact opposite of vampires. Sure, they might be incredibly demanding of you time, but they have a way of seemingly giving endless amounts of energy to fuel you mind and spirit. Keep in mind that what lights you up is not necessarily going to be the same thing that lights up someone else. When you find someone who is sunlight for you, tell them! It is important to be thankful.
4. ARE YOU A VAMPIRE OR ARE YOU SUNLIGHT?
Take some time to think deeply about this. Recognize which of these two ends of the spectrum you bring to your interactions with other people. Do you leave experiences feeling full while your colleagues look like the undead? Then you might be a vampire. Look for relationships that are going to be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. Be someone’s sunlight.
This activity can serve as a great discussion for gifted students and help them realize what lights them up at the core and ways to avoid getting sucked into the darkness.