This is my fourth year of teaching junior high, and unfortunately I’m having one of those quarter-life crisis moments where you look at your job, calculate how much time you spend loving it minus the time you spend hating it, times that by calories consumed in emotionally eating and drinking away the pain of each day, divided by the square root of the minutes I spend calculating how many hours until it’s Friday every week….
And I come up with a pathetic Facebook status cry-for-help. And some tears in the faculty lounge. And a goldfish cracker binge.
Granted, I think I’m due for a little pity party, table for one.
I’m armpit-deep in writing papers for my credential, the student I’m doing a major case study has been chronically absent, I’m being videotaped as I’m teaching, my advisor drops in unexpectedly all the time for “supportive observations,” and it’s the first “Free Dress Friday” of the year this week, so my sheltered Christian private school kids who are stuck in uniforms most of the time have been climbing the walls in anticipation of the great “outfit reveal.” My boyfriend is out of state, the gas attendant pointed to my stomach and asked “baby?,” and I can’t make my car stop smelling like rotten mango.
I also had a lovely dentist appointment on Monday, where I received two shots of anesthesia so he could fill a crack in my molar, brought on by grinding because of stress.
Caused by stress?! You think?!
However, I did get to take this gem of a picture during the visit. And scratch at my cheek, drooling and laughing like the village idiot, “I canf feel dis! Hahah! I canf feel dis heer!”
Sometimes I just wonder – is this is it for me?
Is this my whole plan? It’s definitely not what I had anticipated.
I think these are questions most of us ask for most of our lives. Do I love this enough to do it forever? Am I supposed to love my job? Am I the only one wondering what the hell I’m doing on this earth?
I know I’m lucky to live in a place where I have the time and resources to ask that question. I’m not growing my food to survive, or running through the bushes to escape lions or chained to a factory sewing machine somewhere. So I try to shake these feelings and be grateful in all circumstances. Very Paul-ian. But.
When you’re in a job like teaching, it’s hard to feel supported in what you’re doing. Administration is too busy. Your staff friends are too busy. You’re fighting with your students tooth and nail to get them to just show up and get stuff done, so hearing a “thank you” while I’m passing out work almost stops me dead in my tracks. I’m way more used to the language of sarcasm and the sounds of heavy sighs. Parents are occasionally lovely, which helps to balance out the crazies, but it’s always the crazies that keep you up late at night.
I feel like I struggle with these feelings often. I try to struggle with perspective. I’m trying to balance the whole “I’m lucky to have a job” with the “Could I be doing something I enjoy more.” I’m trying to balance the benefits of working in a tiny school of a faith somewhat similar to mine, but full of well-fed, clothed, privileged kids with ipads, laptops, and iphone5s and a house in Tahoe, with the blessings and intrinsic rewards I think I would find working in a public school with kids who might really need a positive role model and source of encouragement in their lives.
I’m trying to figure out if it’s because of the subject I teach, the kids I teach, the school I teach at, or just teaching in general, that makes me have these freak outs and question my entire identity and existence and try to find the answer in tears and blogging and the bottom of an ice cream carton.
Until then, a good friend reminded me that I can’t control the future, anyway. I would do a terrible job if I did. And by teaching now and going to school for it now, does not mean I am signing up for a fifty-year career in teaching. Things can change. I can change. What I hate today I can love tomorrow. It happened with eggs, and salad, and wearing dresses. It could happen with teaching.
For now, the start of fall, pumpkin spice lattes, feeling a little chill at night, my Giants winning, and leftover pizza donated by my roomie is going to tide me over. I’m leading worship on a retreat in Santa Cruz this weekend, and I know that will restore my soul.
So here is my daily math problem: How many hours until the weekend starts?
Answer: too many. But I’m gonna make it.