The Seven Year Itch

I’m writing this post on what is, for me (and many other teachers and students) New Year’s Eve (No, you don’t have the date wrong – I’m talking about back to school). The first day of school is the start of a “new year” for many – young and old. And, as I sat in my backyard finger counting this afternoon, I realized that this will be my 8th fall as a teacher (I graduated in 2010 – seven years ago, hence the title).

I get asked a lot “how are you feeling about back to school?” this time of year. And this year, I’ve found myself answering (truthfully!) that this is the best I’ve ever felt about back to school. Typically, the last 2 weeks of August find me in a somewhat anxious funk. Given that my birthday is mid-August, I like to joke that I sink into a depression once that’s over. I’m usually worried about getting back into routine, all the things I have to do, and all the things I haven’t done. So what’s changed?

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One of the reasons I’m so excited for this school year? I’ve found a way to incorporate my love of flamingoes into my teaching. It’s gonna be awesome.

A lot of it is what I talked about back in this post. Instead of rehashing what I already said before, I’ll just refer you back to the link.

Today, I want to assure you, if you’re reading this post and you don’t love your job, heck, maybe you don’t even like it – there’s hope. Not the “maybe I’ll win the lottery/marry a millionaire so I can quit” or “follow my dreams and make millions off of my etsy start up making cute hand-stamped stationary” kind of hope. Real hope. Hope of the “I can stay in this job where I am unhappy/dissatisfied/go home and cry every day and somehow make it work for me” kind of hope.

How do I know that? Because I was you. I felt trapped in a career that I just sort of stumbled into because it was “the thing to do.” I was sure I wasn’t going to stick with teaching for very long. I watched other people who seemed to so easily deal with the numerous obstacles that teaching (and really, any career) throws at you and bounce back and wondered what they had that I didn’t.

Again, if you want to hear more about how I did it, read the post that I reference above. Be yourself, make small changes, and loving your job will come. But you know what else? It also takes TIME. As per the title, I’ve been at this gig for seven years now. In the big scheme of my life – not such a long time. But it’s not an insignificant amount of years to be doing something.

And I’ve seen so much growth, both personally and professionally in that time. If you want to talk about trial and error – trust me, I’ve been there! If I could go back and watch my 2010 teacher self, I’m pretty sure I would shudder with embarrassment at what I saw, and deal with things entirely differently.

Through the teaching assignments I didn’t love, I learned what I didn’t want to do. I also learned perseverance, grit and determination. And that, while I might not be thrilled with where I was at, I really could teach anything. I’ve built up a slew of resources, from the digital and print ones I’ve accrued (and now have a nice stash of rubbermaid totes full of them in my basement – #teacherhoarder), to the more intangible mental ones (classroom management techniques, lesson plans and games on the fly, coping mechanisms…).

And none of that happened overnight. It all took time. And I still feel like I have a ways to go and so much to learn. All that to say – wherever you are in your life or career journey – hang in there. Yes, I sometimes wish that I could change things. Yes, there are things I would like to go back and do differently. But at the same time, although the path I’ve taken to get where I am has been somewhat long and winding – I’m grateful for this road. And getting off to such a rocky start has only made where I am now all the more sweeter.

So if you’re reading this and you’re a teacher or student – Happy New Year! And wherever you are at, or what career you are in – let’s make the most of it, ok? And let’s also be patient and kind to ourselves – treat each success and failure as a learning experience, dust ourselves off, and move on. Life is too short to not like where you’re at. So let’s bloom where we’re planted and love what we do.

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