Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Feel Better

This school year has been a bit challenging for me – even in the first month.

Do I feel like a wimp for admitting this?  You betcha.  Usually I’m the type who stays on top of things and feels confident of success.  Granted, I often enter the doldrums during January, when I’m low on vitamin D, and generally hate my job and everyone involved in it.  For the rest of the year, though, things go pretty well.

I strongly sympathize with the stag ...
That’s why I’ve been a bit shocked this year.  It started out with panicky feelings about never finding time to write.  That turned out to be untrue, thankfully, but then, a week later, I began to be tortured by my 8th grade students.  I teach at an all-girls school, which I enjoy.  On the other hand, there is the attached danger of having to deal with anywhere from 12 to 25 thirteen-year-old female beasts.  (I can call them this, because I went through the stage myself! Adolescence...it's a terrifying thing.) 

This year’s 8th grade is particularly beastly, so I spent a week having existential angst.  I wondered if I was a good teacher, or if I should ever teach again.  I even asked myself if my students would ever like me again, since I was forced to penalize an entire class for misbehavior. 

All this may sound ridiculous, but I assure you that these are the things teachers experience. Pity us, please! 

Anyway, I was in sore need of a break.  After all, once you reach a certain point of frustration, it begins to affect everything.  You can even start to resent the students for pushing you into such a state – and a resentful teacher is never a good teacher.  Moreover, in order to remain creative, an artist needs a certain amount of composure, and I was rapidly losing that as well.  I lacked the energy to do even one page of editing (hardly the most strenuous writing work). 

So, in order to restore myself to balance, I went out with The Fashionista

Everybody has their methods of personal therapy, by which they help themselves to recover sanity, or peace, or contentment in their lives.  If we didn’t have those methods, we’d quickly go insane, don’t you think?  I myself have several: sometimes I throw myself into some writing project or other; sometimes I take refuge in pleasant but non-taxing entertainment.  My final method – which can even be the most helpful – is to turn to my friends.

Sometimes seeing yourself everywhere ruins the view!
It’s easy to get absorbed in oneself, and not even in a bad way.  We simply become involved in our personal woes, and forget that there’s a bigger world out there.  Other people have troubles, too, some worse than ours, some lighter.  Also, at least a few of those same people are concerned about our troubles and are ready and waiting to help as much as they can. 

The beautiful thing about someone like that is that frequently all the help you need is their company - pleasant for both sides!  The Fashionista and I ate dinner together, indulged in some retail therapy, and chatted about all sorts of interesting matters for a whole evening.  What was the result?  I felt one hundred percent less stressed and frustrated.  My problem with the 8th graders was not perfectly solved, but it was put into perspective. 

I don’t know about you, but my difficulties can sometimes loom so large that I can hardly see anything else.  Each of my therapy methods is a way of reminding myself that there is in fact something else out there.  Besides work there is writing; besides work and writing there is the need to sometimes totally relax; besides work and writing and the so-called ‘me-time,’ there is also the stimulating and restorative reality of friendship. 

A friend helps us support even the weight of the world!
So what’s my advice tonight?  If you are feeling jaded – do something else.  If you are feeling angry – do something else.  If you are feeling sad – do something else.  (Are you getting my point?)  The best remedy of all will be to do it with someone whom you can rely upon to be comforting simply by their presence.   The Fashionista is one of my oldest friends, so I can count on her to whisk my stress away.  Having a friend or two like that is a real gift for anyone, don’t you think?

Anyway, with my new dose of perspective, I have realized that part of my blues were caused by a packed schedule.  You may have noticed that I didn’t post last week, but in fact that was part of the effort to help me regain balance. 

This week and next, I plan only to post on Tuesday, so that I can recalibrate and keep up with grading and writing.  I’m helping my dad with his dinners while my mom takes a trip, so I’ll be busier than usual.  Rather than write hasty posts on the normal schedule, I’d like to provide just one good post a week, before returning to my twice-a-week pace at the end of October.  Please look forward to more news in a week, and cheer for me as I deal with a full plate of duties!


  1. Feel. That seems to be the key. If one's emotions are locked...step out and feel. Take time to heal and renew. Too much time thinking can be a heavy anchor that keeps one moored.
    Spending the whole week watching my two year old grandson does have it's benefits...but it can be physically draining!


    1. Healing and renewal are two incredibly important things. I think we forget that we need them though. I like your words: 'Too much time thinking can be a heavy anchor...' It's a lovely image :)