By Darlene Koury
Saying Goodbye to Summer
As as I put away my beach blanket and say good-bye to my sunscreen, I brace myself for what comes next. The end of summer always summons a radical change for me. I somehow magically morph from beach bum to superhuman. Long gone are the leisurely lunches and the backyard barbecues.
It’s now full speed ahead, as the school year starts off at lightning speed. My summer break has served me well though, so I’m ready... at least that’s how I feel on day one.
Embracing Back To School
It’s September 1st and I’m pumped! I have new ideas and want to try them all. It’s going to be a great school year! And that’s not all I’m dreaming up. The vision is big: Super Mom to my kiddos, Trophy Wife to the hubby and Dependable Daughter to my aging parents.
My expectations should be high, right? I should be able to do it all. I mean, everyone seems to be handling things just perfectly. At least that’s what I see on social media. So, let me tighten up the draw strings on my cape, chug another cup of coffee and off I go, into the whirlwind called life.
The Honeymoon Is Over
By week two, I’m fading. My light is dimming and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Am I the only teacher feeling the relentless rigor mandated in urban schools? Am I the only one wondering, how I can meet the needs of my all my students? And what about my own family? Am I there enough for my kids, my husband, my parents? Am I alone in thinking ‘How in the world am I ever going to get this all done?’
This is the point where the slippery slope of self-doubt becomes a landslide. This is the point where my self- doubt starts to sabotage my love of teaching. The pressure to be perfect is running us ragged. TIME Magazine wrote in depth about the goddess myth. It explains how we have been conditioned to try to live up to a facade of a picture perfect life, instead of keeping our expectations realistic.
Happy Is A Choice
The good news is, I’ve decided that I am not going to go through this cycle of self- doubt every single year. I deserve better; I deserve to feel better about myself, my job and my life. I deserve happiness. And happiness is a choice.
It’s that quick of a decision. One day, I simply decided that it’s just not happening anymore. Nope, not allowing it. And it’s such a relief! It feels totally great! So great actually, that I might just have it announced over the intercom at school to my fellow warrior teachers barely holding on. Or heck, I might decide to make it a section in my teacher evaluation portfolio to share with my principal, because she’s struggling too! After all, we are actually more alike than we think.
Ok, so first step for self-care is awareness and if you’re reading this post, you’re already aware that you need a change. You’re ready to stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself. Ready to stop the self talk of….I shouldn’t get so overwhelmed in the classroom. I should be able to easily balance a job and motherhood. I should be able to handle as much stress as the teacher next door to me. Stop with the shoulding! In your heart, you know you’re truly trying your best. There is no perfect teacher, no perfect mom, no perfect daughter...and it really is ok.
Next up for self-care is acceptance. Accept the fact that you’re feeling this way. Honor it. Don't dismiss it. We’re all happy, healing and hurting at different times and sometimes feeling all three of these things at the same time. Accept and truly believe that no one is actually flawless. No, no, no….I mean really believe it. You have to say it to yourself, multiple times a day. Confidence comes from believing you can figure it out, not getting it completely correct.
So, now are ready for some homework? Just like you give homework to your own students to better themselves, it’s time to begin your ongoing work to deliberately improve your mood and mindset. No worries, though, this first step is not elaborate and definitely not time consuming. It’s incorporating small habits and making small changes. It’s what you consume on TV and social media. It’s who you have lunch with. It is a daily practice on how you talk to yourself. These little shifts will make a big impact.
It’s no coincidence that you were drawn to read this article, so begin your self-care journey today, this minute. You’re inner voice that’s always speaking to you... you know the one you've ignored for far too long...it’s saying today’s the day that you become unapologetic about your worth!
To Further Your Learning:
Hollis, Rachel. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. Nelson Books, 2018.
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