The Fear Road
I will openly admit any day of the week that I struggle with stress, failure and big decisions and I HATE CONFLICT. Yet I work in one of the most stressful jobs which require continual decision making and conflict resolution. Most days at work I have mini panic attacks at the thought of having to face all of those things… dealing with emails from parents, educating a class full of 25 – 30 teenagers, parent-teacher interviews, teaching observations, meeting deadlines. If I sat down and wrote down all the things I face in my teaching job on a daily basis which conflicts with my biggest fears, I would most likely end up rocking in the corner of a room (so I try to just not think about it).
But I am still there. I am not perfect or amazing at my job. I definitely don’t qualify for ‘Teacher of the Year’ nor will I probably ever be promoted. But I am still here, hanging on and figuring it all out piece by piece. Learning about myself more and dealing with my fears a tiny bit better. My capacity in dealing with teenagers is getting better, although there are still days where I just want to grab a sock and put it in their mouth…. Oh come on teachers! You’ve all felt that from time to time…. We’re all human! I also definitely don’t expect people to aspire to or be inspired by me, but I guess if that floats your boat, go for it.
I will be upfront and say that I have been driven with so many mixed emotions in the last few months about whether teaching is my ‘thing’. Actually that’s a huge lie…. I have felt that since day one! But I am still here so to an extent it must be my ‘thing’. I remember when I first started my now permanent teaching job I was so excited. I had this big positive mindset of ‘yeah this is so my calling… I am in the right place…. I’ve got this.’ Fast forward about a year and a half in (and a few personal hiccups and professional hurdles), I sit with my head in my hands and doubt my worthiness to be there. Everyone talks about how they are so passionate and it’s their calling and just ‘have it’ as a teacher. And then there’s me who has to work hard and take a little bit longer to ‘get it’. And then I start to compare and think that it’s not my ‘thing’ and feel enormous guilt because I don’t feel like everyone else. I wonder sometimes if this feeling of ‘running way’ is the fear setting in of not wanting to face my own fears. It’s amazing how in life I am given things that are meant to help me overcome my fears and weaknesses yet I keep seeing it as proof that I can’t overcome it.
As hard as it is, I really need to stick this out. This whole experience is changing me so much in my professional and personal life so I have so many positive things to gain on a personal level. I need to keep telling myself that I am doing just fine. I need to remind myself that promotion doesn’t always mean success. I need to understand that stuff happens but I am stronger than it. I need to work with the mindset of taking in each great opportunity and stop being anxious about whether it’s my thing. I guess if it wasn’t my thing, I wouldn’t be there in the first place!
And then I start to measure my success poorly. I get this big idea in my head that success as a teacher is measured by promotion, being able to just get everything without the massive stumbles and walking around with that feeling that I am made for the job or that I did a good job or can manage my stress levels.