Teaching in a Pandemic (I CanNOT Survive This Twice)

Being a teacher this year has been one of the hardest experiences I have ever had to push myself through. I have written a bit on here about my journey being a 7th grade English teacher this year, amidst virtual learning, then hybrid learning, and now still hybrid but really like 80% face-to-face and 20% virtual.

Every part of this year has been so difficult. Let’s break it down.

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You Are Not A Burden

I have to repeat these words to myself on a daily basis recently.

I’ve been posting a lot of poems lately. Not every single one I’ve written, but a good chunk of them. It’s annoying because I want to save them and try and publish a poetry chapbook of my own, but I think there’s power in sharing an emotional struggle to ensure that no one ever truly feels alone in the battle with their own mental health. I feel that when we try harder to hide it from everyone, it’s when we feel the most alone and that we are a burden to those who love us.

I’ve uttered those words to my therapist a few times. “I feel like I’m becoming a burden.” It’s the anxiety/depression talking, I know. She’ll ask in response, “Who told you that you’ve become a burden?” and I have to admit that nobody has said it, that’s just how it feels. It’s crazy what a sick brain can convince you of.

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I’m Sorry -a poem-

I’m sorry
for venting
when you wanted quiet.
I’m sorry
for crying
instead of just being silent.
I’m sorry
for thinking
I had your shoulder to lean on.
I’m sorry
for relying
on the vows we agreed on.
I’m sorry
for asking
you to feel some emotion.
I’m sorry
for hoping
you’d have a solution.

I’ll just go back to keeping to myself
now that I know you don’t want to help.

I’m Not A Sore Loser, but

I do have some feelings about it.

I struggle a lot with extremely high expectations of myself, holding myself to unreasonably high standards, needing a lot of validation from others to think I’m not literally the worst teacher, employee, friend, wife, person, etc. It’s hard to live in my head some days, especially this year where we teachers have had to stop and adjust our entire teaching methodology to continue educating in a pandemic.

This post is hard for me to write, because every way I attempt to phrase my frustration makes it sound I’m just a sore loser and I’m not happy for others, and honestly none of that is true. I am not going to share this post on my social media because I don’t need the whispers of my coworkers in the hallway or family members at gatherings spreading half-truths. I just have feelings and words and my they didn’t feel sufficient in my journal.

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Relinquishing Control (Or At Least Trying To)

It’s hard for many to admit: you truly do not have control over anything except for yourself. I’ll be honest, this is one thing that has absolutely wrecked me over this last year of my life. I never considered myself to be the Type A control freak. I’m way too introverted to carry that title and position. Most “control freaks” run a situation, refusing to let others take over.

I, rather, let other people run the show while I watch from the sidelines as things fall apart because I knew better but was too afraid to stand up and say anything. What happens when things don’t work out as planned? Someone has to pick up the pieces and fix it. Enter me: the fixer. I have no issues with this role. Never have.

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When the Self-Doubt Holds You Back

So often – okay, literally everyday – I find myself making the decision to not do something because I don’t think it’ll work out, I’m not good enough to do it. No one is going to like it anyway, so why bother? I’ll be honest, hitting publish on blog posts many days is a challenge, and a great post will sit in my drafts for months and months because I fear it’s not good enough.

I have a hard time feeling good about anything if I don’t get validation from it. That sounds so bad and typing it was actually harder than writing it in my journal. If I don’t get likes and comments, I should just throw it away so no one knows it bombed. I’m a failure. Why am I doing this?

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2020: A Year of Self-Reflection

Even though I haven’t blogged regularly this year, I have had a post like this on my mind for the last week or so. I feel like I’ve spent many days of my Christmas vacation thinking about everything that has happened this year, for better or worse (mostly worse). 2020 was a hard year for everyone (my therapist reminds me weekly: “it’s not just you, Danielle”).

I actually spent some time yesterday rereading my journal (which I started regularly writing in in July). I had mentioned to my therapist I was afraid to read a lot of what was in there because it was so raw. There were a lot of emotions behind those entries…MY emotions. Rather, as she said (seriously how does she know everything), it gave me a chance to look back on all the challenges I pushed through this year and the progress I’ve made.

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Writing Through An Emotional Journey

After a long hiatus from writing regularly, I am (at least at the moment) back on the grind again. While I haven’t started contributing to my bigger writing project (I’m Not Ok) as of yet, I have been doing my best to write everyday.

Most days, it’s just a journal entry. But as I wrote the other day (When Your Main Character is Really Just You), sometimes when I journal I make these huge self-discoveries that maybe I knew subconsciously, but it didn’t really HIT me until I wrote it down.

When I was younger, writing was all I did. It was all I wanted to do. I was blessed to be 1-to-1 with a laptop through high school, and I would avoid doing classwork because I was working on a story or National Novel Writing Month (sorry mom and past teachers). It was so much simpler back then to find the time to write.

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Feelings Buffet -a poem-

I’m not a poet, but when the urge strikes, you follow it. First draft, enjoy.

Feelings Buffet
They say you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Well – you also can’t overload a full plate.

I mean, you can try,
but you will pile and pile
and pray the plate holds

until a plop, crack, crash to the floor,
food strewn for dogs to lick
until they’re sick and you –
broken into pieces like the plate
you thought could hold it all.

It couldn’t,
and neither can you.

Empty the plate first.
Ask yourself – is there room for more
inside? Do I need more? Why?
Isn’t one plate enough?
You’re stuffed.
Stop acting so tough.

Full plate, empty cup
enough is enough.
Wake up –
stand up straight.

And for the last time,
stop overloading your plate.

Have I Made a Mistake? -a poem-

–this is rough but I found this in my journal dated November 2019; wanted to share–

Have I Made a Mistake?
Why else would I feel this way?
Years of trying, deciding,
this felt satisfying – like a cool breeze on a warm day.

And yet, lately, it’s felt like a slow fall into a volcano.
Hot, panicked, awaiting doom.

Have I made a mistake?

At home, I’m so calm.
Here, I’m so not.

Heart racing, mind chasing thoughts and fears,
face full of tears as I hide
in the bathroom once more
to avoid the weakness I carry in my soul.

I thought this was it.
I thought this was where I’m meant to be.
My thoughts instead say:

“Hey, have you made a mistake?”