I watched Split over the weekend again, and Kevin’s personality Hedwig is fascinating to me on many levels. Initially, it creates a comical juxtaposition to have a grown man we know is capable of violence have a child’s persona- complete with coloring pages and an imaginative mind drawing a ‘window’ to the outside world. On another level, Hedwig is extremely relatable to our culture’s bullying problem. Hedwig’s persona is shoved aside and seen by the other personalities as an idiot, immature, and useless. As the saying goes- hurt people, hurt people.
Hedwig, a weak child, allows ‘the beast’, an all-powerful super creature, to take over Kevin’s body. Only Hedwig can allow these evil personalities to take the light. This speaks to how easy it is to turn evil when treated poorly. When I first watched M. Night Shyamalan film, I felt pity for Hedwig and deep sympathy for a child who was bullied into evil ways as a way to gain attention. I see it all the time in my students – they act out in order to gain something whether it be attention or avoidance of activity, person, or content.
Upon watching the film again, I felt Hedwig made a crude error in judgment. At some point in a person’s life, they must choose a path: good or bad, right or wrong. Hedwig’s problem is his lack of experience and naivety. He doesn’t understand that Patricia and Dennis are using him for their own gain. Students must at some point or another, take control of what has happened to them and choose to not let it define them – just as I don’t let my anxiety or depression regulate how I work or define the quality of education I provide for them. Hedwig has a valid excuse! I mean, he’s only 8 for crying out loud and has never had a positive role model to encourage him and teach him right from wrong.
As a person who classifies herself as a “worrier”, I never let myself acknowledge that all my worries were indeed anxiety trying to tell me something. As a teenager, I worried about what college to go to, my grades, my savings account balance, what my boss thought of me, and my parent’s perception of who I was, my relationship with God, etc. These things helped me lose many nights of restful sleep.
As an adult, I worry about different things, but they still seem like life or death (even though I know they’re temporary or surface level, materialistic worries). I worry about my students, my bank account, my relationship with my husband, and the perceptions that the school and community as a whole have of me. All of these “worries” I’ve now come to realize are anxiety. But, in a culture where everything is “omg my anxiety is inhibiting me from performing the most minute task,” I’m hesitant to talk about the stress of teaching because it would simply be white noise in an already crowded arena.
I’m not spokesperson anxiety wants me to be. I’m not going to be the one posting on Instagram “I have anxiety and depression and guess what? That’s okay!” Even as a person who suffers from both of these ailments, I look at other people who are inhibited from performing daily tasks, and I don’t understand it.
I have a reason to get my lazy ass out of bed every day and get to work; my job doesn’t continue on business as usual without me. I’m needed, and no call- no showing would result in termination and disappointing a hundred kids.
All of these thoughts are coming to the surface because I literally almost sold my car because I was financially stressed. Thankfully, someone talked me out of it, but these are the crazy things that anxiety and depression want me to do. I have a devil on my shoulder telling me crazy shit at all times: you’re not worth it, your husband is cheating, you’re a horrible educator, you’re not trying hard enough, kill yourself.
There’s no moral to this story, no thoughtful inspiration to motivate a reader to continue on through the daily monotony of life. Just a writer who is sharing her current reality. I connect to “Split” because I’m a different person at school compared to who I am in my personal life. I’m juggling these two separate identities inside of one mind. I must be a professional who conducts herself in a genial and politically correct manner. At home, I can swear and use all of the sarcasm I desire.
I’m trying to be good. Every day. Every hour.
In a rural town in Wisconsin, the dedicated teachers who educate these vicious adolescents are members are an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. This is my story.