I’ve been enjoying more work/life flexibility this month. I’ve had work to do. I’ve gone to work. I’ve also had some off days, and I’ve taken time away mentally. I used to struggle in the summer with the opportunity to relax. There was one summer when I remember trying to measure a couple of moles that concerned me. I would sit around thinking about those moles and worry whether they were cancerous.
So, yeah. I would say that I have a history of worry and anxiety.
But a little time away is nice for perspective. And over the past few years, when I’ve had these nice, catch your breath moments, I’ve gotten some healthy perspective about the role work is currently playing in my life and psyche.
I love our profession. I love that we do work that matters so deeply in the lives of other people and to the future of this world. And yet, I’m increasingly concerned about how many of us are sacrificing our own well-being in name of our “calling.” There is no perfect way to integrate work and life that works for every person. Only we can truly understand for ourselves, as individuals, how our work is fueling us or draining us.
Sadly, the grind of the school year can be so intense that I often don’t know how I’m really doing. I tend to compartmentalize things. When needed, I can “die on the inside” for lack of a better word in order to survive the hard. And I just pretend my way through. It’s a survival strategy – this ability to shut off feelings when it’s too much to bear. Those of us who have experienced childhood trauma are really good at it. We have a life-long experience with this.
And sometimes, it may serve us well. However, I think it’s doing me, personally, more harm than good in the grand scheme of things. Because while feelings are like passengers who come and go, some thoughts and feelings continue to resurface and when they do, it’s important information worthy of deeper consideration.
So, there are some thoughts that keep resurfacing for me. My biggest takeaway from the relaxed nature of the month of July is this: Hustle is important. But so is rest. Not everything in our work deserves the same level of hustle. We cannot give 110% to everything, 110% of the time. Nor can our students. Not all things are worth that amount of time, energy, or worry. When we save our energy for the things that feel really important, those really important things get better. Those really important things get the best of us.
I’m looking back on some things from this past school year that worried me. Some of those things still feel really important.
Many of them don’t.
As we age, time starts to feel like it’s going more quickly. When we are kid, that distance between Halloween and the holidays feels so big and moves so slowly. Now, months go back in a flash. But what’s fascinating is that time has remained consistent. Time moves at the same steady rate.
So what has change since we were kids?
We have. We are moving quickly and worrying and moving again.
I’m tired of rushing and being busy. If that makes other people think I’m lazy or unmotivated, I’m less inclined to care.
I want to savor. I want to savor more moments. I want to say no to more things, so I can say yes to the things that make me thankful to be alive.
Because really…isn’t that what our schools and classrooms need at the end of the day? Calm care and a profound sense that what we are doing together is special and worthy of savoring? Less rush. More presence.
I just need to figure out how to catch myself when death on the inside is happening to me. When the worry and the chaos of other people is swirling around me, I need to find a way to reset and reclaim my power.
To start, I think I need my phone away from me more. I need better boundaries.
What strategies do you use to slow down and get centered?
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