Photo by Hédi Benyounes via Unsplash.com
In my head, my life has been completely nuts lately. In reality, things are actually pretty calm and slow. The reason I feel like life is crazy is because there are so many changes on the horizon, and I’m constantly ruminating on how to tackle them, logistically, mentally, and financially.
Here’s everything that’s going on:
The school year is ending. This is the one thing I’m actually on top of– I’m up-to-date with grades, finished planning, done making copies, and enjoying watching my students’ adaptations of Romeo & Juliet scenes come together. We have about 10 more days left. It truly feels surreal to be so close to finishing my first year teaching, meanwhile feeling confident and skilled as an educator, something I felt so far away from at the beginning of the year.
I’m starting my summer job soon. Too soon, I would argue. I literally start work the day after I’m done teaching for the year. I worked this job last year, and I really enjoyed it. It’s only six weeks part-time, and I worked with fewer than 20 students total. Compared to full-time teaching, it’s a lot easier. That being said, I’m anxious about jumping into it so soon, meeting the instructors I’ll be working with, and of course, meeting my new students. And, doing all this while…
I’m moving– a lot. I wrote a post back in January about how I was planning to move home over the summer. Since then, things have changed: I’m moving to DC in the middle of July, which means I’m moving home for just a few weeks, instead of two months. This means that I have to move all my stuff to my parents’ house, and then move it all again to my new apartment in the city. And I’m moving to a new classroom before the year ends. There’s just a lot of moving in my future, which means a lot of planning and packing and physical labor. Not to mention, unique fees and expenses that I’m not too sure how to plan for.
I’m going abroad. About two weeks after moving, and a few days after I finish my summer job, I’m heading to Iceland with my partner and three friends. I’m incredibly excited for this, but travelling also makes me super nervous. Flights, itineraries, money, all stress me out– especially when in a foreign country. It’s also just happening very soon, so I feel like my summer won’t slow down until I get back in the second week of August.
Changes in my career. These are happening in the fall, but require planning over the summer. The major change is that I’m going to be the newspaper adviser at my school, which I am SO excited to do. I did journalism for 3 years when I was in high school, and it was my favorite class and much of the reason I decided to become a teacher. Still, I haven’t touched Adobe InDesign, any books on journalistic writing, or any resources on school newspapers since high school– so there are some major question marks here. My school is also moving to all-Honors classes in ninth grade, plus some curriculum changes, so I’ve got some planning cut out for me in terms of my content classes as well. And finally, I decided to start working on my Master’s degree in education in the fall. So my plate is a bit full, as I always seem to make it.
All of these changes are floating around in my head, even though there’s nothing I can do about them right now except wait. I’ve secured an apartment, moved everything I can to my parents’ house, finished all of my planning for the end of the year, etc. Still, I was finding myself focusing on all these looming changes instead of being present in the moment.
What’s worse is that my feeling of having no control led me to feel stressed and anxious, this past week especially. I saw the effects of this in my budget– I’m pretty embarrassed to say that I spent $100 more on eating/drinking out than I budgeted for in May. Most of this was because I underspent in other categories, so I added that money to my going out fund (still not the best thing I could have done with that money), but some of it simply went over. In addition to this, I got a camera ticket.
I felt like I wasn’t in control of my money, and like I kept failing myself. I was talking this through with my partner, and he said, “What? You’re doing great. You messed up, but you’re doing way better than me or most people we know.” I knew he was right, but why didn’t I feel at peace with my mistakes? I replied: “I might be better with money than you, but you don’t worry about it the same way. You feel secure and you know things are going to be okay, and I always feel like I’m going to run out of money no matter what.” I realized then that it was my deprivation mindset creeping back in the midst of my anxiety about the changes going on in my life. I am not in poverty anymore, so now feeling financially secure is a choice. I have to choose abundance and work to believe it.
Some specific moments this past Friday helped me do just that. At the time, I was even more stressed about the future, as I was waiting to hear back about whether or not the application to our new apartment had been accepted. Right after school, I checked my email and saw that it had. I felt relieved. I went through my Google Drive looking for something just after, and I stumbled upon a document named “5 Year Plan.”
I created my 5 Year Plan in the summer of 2017, about two years ago. I think I was feeling particularly motivated to set forth my values and goals and pursue them. When I looked back on it Friday, I read through my values and was reminded of the things I should truly be prioritizing in my life: family, friendship, autonomy, intimacy, learning, simplicity, graciousness, passion, and health. I also looked at the list of goals I wanted to achieve in 5 years, and began crossing some out, only to realize all that I had accomplished. I looked at the breakdown of the 5 years, and was reminded that I paid off my debt months earlier than I had originally planned on. I made some adjustments to the plan, and felt pretty overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities I had (and took advantage of) to achieve what I set out to. You can read my 5 Year Plan here.
After looking through my plan, two of my students came in my room and we had an awesome conversation– I even lost track of time and stayed twenty minutes past when I meant to leave. We said goodbye and I met my coworkers for an end-of-year happy hour, where we celebrated three teachers who were retiring or moving. They each gave impromptu speeches about their gratitude for our school, and I realized more clearly how incredibly grateful I am as well.
I have found that I’m very good as recognizing when I feel broken– too critical of myself, too anxious about the things I don’t have control over, too focused on anything but the present moment. I’m not as good at changing these things; at least not quickly.
I don’t really know what this post is about. It’s tough to come to conclusions about healing when you’re still healing. But this is where I am, and I wanted to write it down.