This is my thirtieth consecutive day blogging. I am exhausted. It’s my third year finishing the Slice of Life challenge, but this year feels different. I wonder if it’s because spring break is so much later this year; even without the work (and joy) of daily blogging, I’m pretty sure I’d still be this spent. But tomorrow is the last day (I think I can, I think I can). Almost there…
A colleague today said to me, “You must be exhausted.” She was referring to the work I’m doing in a new course I’m teaching this year, but really, she could have been talking about any part of my life. I am exhausted. But it’s all my own fault, really. When I think about all the things going on in my life, I chose every single one of them. It’s hard to complain when you’re in a hell of your own making (okay, hell is too strong a word, but somehow the expression fits).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I got myself to this point. Is it because I just can’t say no? Maybe. After I felt proud of myself for giving up supervising one club at the end of last year, I ended up taking on another when some former students came looking to me to be their faculty advisor. It’s not a big commitment, just an extra half hour after school one day a week (and I’d probably be staying late anyway), but even as I write this, I realize I did what I always do—rationalize. I tell myself it’s that much, so I can manage.
There should be a word for this—the realization that all your problems are really a direct result of all your own choices, no matter how well-intentioned. On the one hand, that’s incredibly depressing. But on the other hand, it can also be empowering. If I can get myself into this mess, I most certainly can get myself out.
“What are you going to get rid of next year?” my colleague asked me the other day. I couldn’t answer him in the moment, but I know he’s right.
And I know I’m not alone in this, not by any means. Teachers everywhere are stretched beyond breaking point. But I do wonder how much of our stress is self-inflicted, a natural result of wanting to do it all. Even when I look out at my classroom of students, I see a room full of young adults who also want to do it all: honors and AP classes, clubs, sports, volunteer work, and of course, the homework. It’s not all students, but it’s a lot of them, and you can see it in their faces, just as I’m sure you can see it in mine.
The good news is that spring break is only a week away. I think we all deserve this one a little more this year.
This post is part of the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers, who have created a space for writers and teachers of writers to come together. To learn more about this challenge, click here.