Here is a question: How can I take time for myself while having a job that requires me to give all of myself away?
Possible current answer based on a small amount of experience: I can’t give all of myself away. I have to keep some of myself for myself. And doing that feels bad. It feels like I am being selfish and like I am not as good at my job. I have to do it anyway.
What does that look like? It looks like staying late at school for thirty minutes (not three hours) to make the bare minimum of copies for the next day. It looks like not opening my backpack to get work done as soon as I get home. It looks to me like caring less. I know I don’t care any less than I did when I was getting home, chatting with Jonny for 15 minutes, and then working until I fell asleep at 9 so that I could wake up at 430 to get more work done.
The work I need to get done will never stop being there. There is always work to get done and there will never be a point where the work is complete. Never. So I need to focus on today, maybe I could focus on tomorrow a little bit. And when I think about anything beyond today or tomorrow, it is with a team of people I am working with to get to that future date, so it isn’t as much of a burden.
I cannot carry this by myself, so I am going to stop trying to.
This is my most recent lesson since beginning this teaching endeavor. Saying this job is difficult doesn’t really paint a clear image. Saying this job is traumatizing is a bit dramatic and rude sounding. So, I just tell people it’s interesting. It is interesting. I am learning so much about myself through the eyes of 130 teenagers, most of whom think I am full of shit.
Everyday I ask myself the question, “what the fuck?” Let’s be real. I ask myself that question at least every hour. I cry pretty much everyday, which I have concluded is not totally the norm for a first year teacher, but Jonny has reassured me that I tend to feel my emotions as soon as I notice them.
I am exhausted and weirded out all the time. I think that’s sort of how this thing goes. Maybe I just need to get used to it. One thing I know for sure is that I must focus on what I need to do for today. When I think about tomorrow, and the next week, and the next year, a sense of dread and terror washes over me. It’s overwhelming.
For now, I just need to get done what I need to get done for today. I need to let go of everything else so that I can have the space that I need for myself. So that this job does not swallow me whole.