I have been having a really hard time.
For the past month or so I haven’t been writing because I honestly didn’t have anything to be happy about or when I sort of did, I didn’t have a moment to spend time to think and reflect on it.
School has taken a toll on me. When people ask me about it, I mostly avoid the topic because there’s too much to say and it’s not very interesting to complain and whine about how difficult it has been. And they can mostly see it from the exhaustion on my face and the bags under my eyes anyway.
There are parts of it I really enjoy: my students are mostly entertaining and sweet when they (and their parents) aren’t completely dependent on me, I have some really amazing co-workers who keep me going throughout the day, and once a week I get to teach the older kids Sign Language, which excites me so much (because they are actually learning and practicing it).
But then there are the not so nice things: 14 hours days (and being on my feet for most of that time), meetings, events, planning, worries that I am failing at everything I am doing with these kids, not taking care of my health (and my body just not being happy with me, especially when I continue to go to work when I am sick), sleepless nights, evaluations, report cards, trying to fit in time for It Gets Fatter and photography and friendships, and not any time for family things (like not seeing my nephew on his 2nd birthday because of an It Gets Fatter event).
I’m taking on a lot at once and spreading myself out so thin. For the last two weeks, I have cried myself to sleep every night out of frustration and exhaustion and sadness. Sometimes when the negativity is really bad, I just think I’m doing everything wrong; my teaching, my relationships, my life in general. It makes me feel like my life will always be like this. But then I think it might be, but it will also have so many small moments of simple joys that help me keep going and remind me that I’m doing the best I can with the energy and skills that I have.
And even though the next two weeks are going to continue to be incredibly busy and I have so many things to still get done, meetings to go to, lessons to plan,commitments to fulfill, this is still going to be a happy post, with a happy list:
1. This song.
I have been listening to it so much. And I love it but it makes me cry so much.
2. My phone. I feel like the only way I have been able to communicate with the world outside of school has been through my beautiful, reliable phone. Snapchat, WhatsApp, iMessage, email, Instagram, facebook, texts, FaceTime, etc. have saved me and have kept me less lonely (even though I am surrounded by people at all times). If you want to get a hold of me, that’s the way to do it (I might not be able to respond right away but I read and I appreciate it so much).
3. This picture, and pretty much Ori in general. I think it’s so helpful that Ori is as exhausted and miserable as I am because it makes us more patient with each other. It makes it OK to have quiet and moody hangouts, it makes us want to hear about each other’s bad days and the small victories, it makes us try harder to find time to do photography things, and remember that we are way more than just teachers.
4. My students. As much as I complain about being miserable, I kind of love those dumb 6/7 year old kids that I see every day (when I don’t have to constantly zip up their jackets, make sure they sneeze/cough in their sleeve and not on me, when I don’t have to stop them putting their fingers in their mouth/nose/pretty much anything). They tell the most random stories and they make me laugh all the time with their ridiculousness.
5. I’m doing a lot of really amazing stuff. It Gets Fatter has now started two monthly support groups, at U of T and at York. After spending the whole day with kids and being on my feet and having to talk so damn much, I usually don’t feel like talking or being around people most days after school. But I love these groups. I genuinely love meeting these people and building something with them. I am also going to be facilitating photography workshops for youths for 3 weeks in December for Access Alliance. I am going to be actually talking to other human beings about my photography, my process, and mentor them. I’m so busy being down on myself about everything that I forget that I can actually do lots of stuff, and do it kind of well. It still surprises me sometimes.
6. Actually making an effort to take care of myself. When things started to get busy in September, I made a list of things I could do in order to feel like I was practicing some kind of self-care. Some things on the list were: to find a therapist, book a physical (pretty much the works) with my doctor, get blood work done, and take longer showers. I still take 10 minute showers, but I’m happy to report that I have made really great progress in finding a therapist and have appointments booked to see all of the doctors ever. It’s not entirely what I need to take care of myself, but it’s a start.