This year is more than halfway over, and that is completely impossible for my brain to process. Exactly a year ago, I was finishing up student teaching, getting ready to graduate, and regularly crying over the fact that I might not secure a teaching position.
Now, I have my own classroom (that is slowly but surely becoming more routined and well-balanced) and a place that feels like home. This year has been nothing if not stressful and dynamic.
I feel like I'm growing into myself as a person and really defining what it means to be me and to be happy. But there's also been a lot of hurdles getting to that point. Learning to manage stress as a first-year teacher is no easy feat, at least from my experience.
I am constantly second-guessing my choices in the classroom and whether I'm performing as a successful educator--then again, I guess every good veteran teacher is doing those things, as well.
Just finding my footing this year has been hard. I don't want to be the first-year teacher that says no too often, but I also don't want to be the person spreading myself to thin.
I don't want to seem like I don't want anyone's help, but I also want to show that I'm qualified and able and try things myself first.
On top of that, teaching is EXHAUSTING. I end each week with a desire to go out with friends and live my best life as a 22-year-old, and instead I end up falling asleep by 9 on a Friday night. Shout-out to my friends that make fun of me for this every week!
Regardless of how this year is going, I've definitely learned a lot about myself, both as a teacher and as a person, as I've tackled this first year of teaching. Here's what I'm starting to figure out:
I have no idea what I'm doing.
Literally at any moment, I don't know what's going on. Whether it's in the classroom, in my social life, or with myself. I always have a plan, but sometimes those plans don't work out. I'm learning to be OK with sometimes just not knowing what direction I'm headed. I'll figure it out on the way.
I am too much of a perfectionist.
New goal? Chill. Out. I always knew I was type-A, but wowza. Teaching has taught me that sometimes I have to be OK with a mess. I sincerely cannot leave my classroom after school and head home until everything is cleaned up and in order, and it is a PROBLEM. I'm not a pushover; I always have my students clean up the messes they've made. But MY teacher desk, cabinets, shelf space, etc. all need to be in perfect order before I walk out the door or I legitimately won't have a good night. You could say this is kind of a good thing, because I'm always orderly and ready to go. BUT it also means I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself when there's no need for it. I'm working on it.
I'm allowed to make time for myself.
I feel like I spent the whole last year of college under a mountain of stress and constantly anticipating what was going to come next. I still do that (see above), but now I also try to make time for myself. I really do my best to get all of my school work done AT school. Then I can come home and I have the night to do whatever the heck I want. Sometimes that means I get a good workout in, other
times I grab coffee and catch up with a friend, and sometimes it just means I get to veg out in front of the TV and turn my brain off for a while. It's empowering to just stop thinking and going for a minute. It's nice to just enjoy what I want to enjoy without any added pressure.
I still hate cooking. A lot.
Maybe one day this will change, but even with more time to do it and more resources (a.k.a. I don't have a college kid's budget anymore), I still just don't like it. Listening to podcasts during, trying a meal prep service (Hello, HelloFresh!), and picking easier dishes to make... I've tried it all, and I still hate it. I'm not a cook. I don't think I ever will be. If anyone reading this has a suggestion to get me to enjoy cooking more, please help a struggling chef out.
I need a hobby.
Hence, this blog. In high school, I played tennis. In college, I had homework and studying and my part-time job. Now, I don't really have anything. I go to work and I come home. I try to see friends as much as possible and I've definitely given Netflix and Hulu a good chunk of my time, but I don't really have anything to do that I'm passionate about (outside of teaching). I guess I'm hoping this blog gives me an outlet and becomes something I can put time into, because let's face it, I need a hobby.
I have really great people in my life.
If nothing else, this year taught me that I surround myself with the right people. I have an awesome guy that supports me in everything I do and is constantly there to cheer me up, make me laugh, or just chat with me--even all the way from Cincinnati. I have the best friends in the world. College ending really let me latch onto the people that I knew I wanted in my life for the long-haul. I have found a group of super supportive teacher friends at my school. I just feel really fortunate to have the people in my life that I do. I'm never without someone to lean on for support, laughs, or love.
This year has been a year of growth, and it's not over yet (because there's still 2 months left of school and a summer full of hard decisions to make!). I can't wait to see where I am a year from now, but hopefully by then I like cooking more.