Finding Courage in Discouragement

Guys, I'm discouraged. I have been, for months, actually.

It's been a long time since I've written about my first year of teaching. In fact, I don't tend to talk about it at all. I believe in the teaching realm (and in any professional realm, really), you must be very careful about what you say online about your place of employment, especially when it involves children and colleagues. I wrote this difficult post after my devastating first week of school, but I've been fairly quiet ever since.

Today, however, I want to share some of the emotions I've dealt with on this crazy journey. I won't go into full detail about things, but what I can do is hopefully relate to those of you who have started a new job, or moved to a new area, or are teaching for the first time, or going through a rough patch that lacks answers. You are not alone, my friend.

"Twentysomethings who don't feel anxious or incompetent at work are usually overconfident or underemployed." -The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay

It's no surprise that my first year out of college has been difficult, to say the least. I have felt scared, lonely, anxious, overwhelmed, lost, incompetent, isolated, under-appreciated, stressed, worried, and angry--just to name a few. I'm sure that you have all experienced these emotions, maybe even at the same time, too.

Moving away from home for the first time has been difficult enough on its own. I cried every day for at least a month. Then about twice a week for the next two months. And then about once a week for another. Now, I just cry at the drop of a hat when I think about going to sporting events with my Daddy or when I miss just hanging out with Mom or when I say goodbye to my love. I've become a lot more sentimental and a lot more anxious and worried in the past year. I think that must happen more and more as we age. What I love has become so much more dear, but with that comes the fear of it getting taken away. Too many tragedies have happened to people around me that even the smallest car drive makes me worried and the phone ringing makes my heart skip a beat. This anxiety, with the longing for college and home, has been a real challenge for me. It took me a good six months before I even started to decorate the walls of my apartment! It was like I didn't want to create a life for myself here, even though I was and AM here. I didn't want to admit that we are all in charge of our own happiness.

"Be where you are, not where you think you should be."

And then there's school. I think my tears owe half of their existence to my first year of teaching. It doesn't seem right--starting off questioning the career choice I made, discouraged about so many things out of my control. A good friend recently told me that teaching is the only profession in which the client goes out of his or her way to prevent or hinder the teacher from doing her job. How true that is! While I still cling to the ideals of teaching and believe it is the profession for me, I am disappointed that I can sense the disillusionment of it all. It's easy to get caught up in the behavior problems, politics, and emotional investment that teaching brings. I suppose everyone must go through these experiences, however, and I am CERTAINLY extremely blessed to even have a job, to be in the place I am, and to have a group of wonderful people around me. This fact alone makes me shy away from sharing my doubts, fears, and pain.

"We must constantly remind ourselves that He is God and we are not." - Jeffrey R. Holland

All of these emotions are in such contrast to the usual positive, uplifting, and ambitious mentality I have tried to embody for most of my life. In the midst of chaos and miles away from the people and place I am used to, I find it harder to cling to the real me. This is a scary experience and I've only just started to shake this.

But.

I've made it through almost 3/4 of a school year. I've survived on my own. I've made a lot of great friends at work. I take two classes at the YMCA. I've made time for blogging. I've made several crafts. I'm handling a long-distance relationship as best as I can. I have a lot to be proud of. 

I remember during my first day of school when I bawled on the phone to my mom. I said how I knew I would learn so much this year and this was a mountain I needed to climb, but I couldn't stand the long wait to be on the other side of that mountain. Today I am definitely not over that mountain. In fact, there are many more in my horizon; BUT I have made progress.

If anything, this year has taught me what I don't want. And it gave me a little more direction. And that's something I didn't have any a year ago.

"The happiness of your life relied on the quality of your thoughts." -Marcus Aurelius

I just hope that anyone who has gone through something similar can recognize the progress that has been made. That is something to be celebrated! You have been so brave, so strong. Always remember, God will never let you face something that you can't get through. When you're in a tough spot, here's what I suggest:

  1. Find something that motivates you. Maybe it's the challenge of reaching a certain day, or meeting a certain goal. Find it and let it empower you. I'm clinging to June 13th.
  2. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. I definitely wouldn't be here without my family, friends, and new coworkers.
  3. Give yourself a break. You deserve it. What you've done is enough. Life WILL go on, even if you stop right now.
  4. Distract yourself with things you enjoy and try new hobbies. I would not have been able to make it without this blog and without my crafts.
  5. Listen to the signs that your experiences are showing you--time will reveal where you need to go and what you need to do.
  6. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small.

Feel free to share your successes, struggles, ideas, and more in the comments. What I love about the blogging community is the ability to connect with others from all around the world. Thanks for stopping by today :)