After I sat down and thought for a moment, I had to change the title of this post. It seems that the last two years for me have been years frought with extreme highs and extreme lows. I suppose that's how life really goes, but it'd be nice if life would sort of float on an even keel for awhile. Regardless though, I really feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life. All of the frustrations that were mounting before sectionals and regionals had a lot to do with work. Cf for so long had been an escape from my frustrations with my job that when it became more than just a release, it stopped being fun. It started to become another source of ADDED stress, the exact opposite of what I needed. Now that regionals are gone, I'm feeling the weight of that stressor gone, but unfortunately still not the others.
As I sit less than a week away from my 28th birthday, I am forced to admit that I am not happy with my life. When I was younger I of course had the idylic dreams of the terrific and fabulous life I'd be leading all by the tender age of 26. Somewhere in there, dreams and reality never quite met up but I still always thought that I'd love the life I had regardless of whether or not it was what I thought it would be when I was younger. Lately though, I've been realizing that not only do I not like my life, I pretty much despise some aspects of it.
I have always thought that hard work was the answer to everything and never shied away from that. Hard work got me through the first few months of CF. Hard work brought progress. Hard work kept me afloat financially. Hard work has helped me make lots of friends in lots of places. Hard work has helped me get things done and meet deadlines. But now, hard work means no time for myself. No time for my family. No time for friends. No time to find someone to share my life with. It means having no time to do things that I enjoy. It means always missing the party.
Somewhere along the line, hard work ceased to be a quality and it overtook me. I'm not saying I desire to turn into a fat, lazy, slug who never moves from her couch, but I'd love to find a job that I enjoy. I'd love to find a job where I can leave at 5 or 6 o'clock and know that for the day, my work is DONE. I don't know if I can make anyone understand what it's like to be at work at the restaurant and have to run through a list of things that need to get done at school the next day before the kids get there because you couldn't get them done today because you couldn't stay late. Or how frustrating it is to leave at 800 at night and STILL not be done with everything you're expected to do. Or how utterly deflating it is to put all you have into your work, and still be asked to do more.
Teacher burnout typically occurs within the first five years. I'm on year 5 and I'm there. This isn't fun. This isn't enjoyable. And I'm tired of feeling guilty because I don't spend 25 hours a day doing school things. I'm tired of people trying to MAKE me feel guilty for that. I need to change. I need out and it needs to happen before the stress levels seriously impact my health. But, the problem is, I don't know how to go about doing that or what to change to. I've been asking a lot of folks what they think I could do with a teaching degree and I've gotten lots of different answers. I've gotten lots of different suggestions for possibilities and lots of different criticisms for wanting to leave too. Some think me leaving is taking the easy way out. Some think it's a good thing. I think for now, I think it's necessary. I just want to have a life. I want to enjoy being me. I think it's fair to say that I don't even think that I've felt like myself much of the last few years. The only times I'm ever myself are the two months that I'm NOT teaching. That's not the kind of life I want for myself.
In coming to all of these realizations, I've also had to come to grips with how utterly scared to death I am. Again, young and having dreams, I thought I'd find a school I loved and retire from there after 30 years. Unfortunately, that's not the case, and now I'm terrified. Terrified of being stuck somewhere where I am this unhappy and terrified that things won't get better. Terrified that I won't be able to find a way out. Terrified that I will never get back to being me.
So why am I sharing this? Because.... it's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to? Partially. But also because again, if someone else feels the same way I do, and reading this makes them feel like someone understands, the typing was worth it. I have come to the conclusion, after several seemingly mindless chats with the Big Man, that being scared is ok. The Great Unknown, or Unknowable, is scary. It's terrifying to realize your life isn't going the way you want. But, I think in his own way, the Big Man has tried to tell me, it's ok and that I need to keep pushing forward. I need to finish out this year, and then seriously examine what I want to do and where I want to go.
I'm not someone who is huge on religion, and I'm not someone who, until recently, would have even mentioned this topic in a blog, but lately the Big Man and I have started to chat. Well, I chat. He listens. Or at least I think he does. He's kinda busy so I'm sure all the mindless chatter doesn't get through, but I think most of it does. Anyway, I'm not saying that I'm encouraging everyone to go pick up a Bible and get Jesafied, but I'm of the belief nowadays that it can't be a bad thing just to talk. Most parents in the world I think would agree that sometimes, they just want to talk to their kids. Good, bad, or indifferent talk, it's just nice to hear their voice.
I think that sometimes, just by talking, even without response, we figure things out just because we had a chance to spill our guts and admit lots of stuff. And who better to admit your guts to than someone who won't judge and who won't ever share? If you're not a Big Man kind of person, ok, then write. Get it out. Write that you're scared or terrified, or heartbroken, or lonely or whatever you're feeling. I guarantee you will feel better just by getting it out there. I'll admit, when I first started talking to the Big Man, I felt like an idiot. I wasn't sure I was doing it right and I wasn't sure if he was listening or understood. I very much felt like the main character in "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret." But regardless, I think the important thing was that I tried, and that I was putting myself out there. I find that I like to picture the Big Man in cargo shorts, a CF shirt and flip flops, and that helps immensely too. I think it just makes him easier to relate to, and seem less overwhelming. Right or wrong, it helps me relax and get thoughts out. And usually, after some sharing, I've found that I'm feeling better and have even found an answer or two, all just because I let it out.
I'm working my way through things, but unfortunately, I think this is going to be a very long process. I think I have a lot to figure out. I've written posts along similar lines before, but things are even more strained now than before. The need for a solution is more pressing. How things are going to wind up, I don't know. But I know that I am going to get back to CF. I'm going to find a way to make it fun again. Find a way to get off these few extra pounds, and find a way to get back on track with what I want. I know I CAN do it. I just need to find the way. So hang in there folks. I have a feeling this ride is going to get a little crazy.