Returning to School With a Different “WHY”

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The week before school began.

Dear Diary,

My mind, body, and soul are on fire, in turmoil, and confusion. The week was a whirlwind of both exciting opportunity and disheartening moments. Doors opened and some have closed. Catching a glimpse of what could be a reality turned into a dream, and it vanished as quickly as awakening when visions and feelings embrace the unconscious mind and soul, then everything disappears.

This week presented an opportunity for me to live in my dreams. I prepared by surrounding myself with my most supportive cheerleaders, focused my attention on being the best version of myself, and leveraged my natural comfort of speaking and living in authenticity. After showing up and envisioning a transition into something that fit me instead of me fitting into something, I was left heartbroken. I quickly recognized that the dreamy opportunity did not fully fit me in this season of my life, but rather placed me in a position to abandon something I find much joy in when engaged. I couldn’t have both, and that caused the heartbreak.

The weekend before school began.

Dear Diary,

If I could sum up my weekend in sets of two-word phrases, they would be any or all of the following: emotional rollercoaster, deep reflection, thought-provoking, or unexpected loss.

Over the last 24 hours, I made space to lean into my feelings and allow myself to feel them; not think about my feelings, but actually feel them.

I must admit that I devoted my summer learning and growing towards transition. So much time and energy were spent exploring the possibilities, filling my cup with what I thought “fit” and leaving little room to trust in the process and in what the universe was attempting to send to me. As I prepare myself to return to school for the second time during a pandemic, I feel more exhausted now than I did in June, despite having had an extended break from all of the things that educators experienced in the last 18 or so months.

Week 1.

Dear Diary,

The first week of school brought a mixed bag of emotions. Leading up to the return did not bring the excitement as it had in years past. I focused my energy on time together with my young artists, reuniting with familiar faces and meeting new ones. Visiting with my colleagues whose friendships do not allow a summer of absence from picking up conversations as if they happened yesterday. That brought me joy.  

My “why” for teaching as a traditional public school classroom teacher no longer serves the purpose it once did. My “why” developed as a result of childhood trauma. I have dealt with low self-worth and anxiety my entire life.

School was my safe place.

I was held to high standards, found success, created friendships and positive rapport with my teachers. I was able to escape the stuff I dealt with at home. I felt like I mattered when I was in school, so becoming a teacher was my way to continue controlling that feeling and keeping it with me as an adult. I knew that I would feel like I mattered if I lived out my career in school.

For years, school served a purpose and fulfilled my “why.”

That’s no longer the case.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

A few years ago, I burned out.

Years of low self-worth, giving into comparison, shouldering the weight of teacher stress, and experiencing changes in my world that I could not control – those are just a few ingredients that fed my anxiety. My “why” began losing its purpose, exacerbating anxiety, and revealing that I no longer felt that I mattered in school. My work-life balance disappeared. I felt like a horrible wife, mother, friend, co-worker, and teacher.

It changed me.

I know now that I am in control of my self-worth. School does not dictate who I am and how I can add value to others.

I do that.

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