For years, the question that ran in a loop through my brain was “Why am I so tired?” In those exhausting years, before blogging was even a proverbial twinkle in my eye, I was an ESL teacher.And I looooooved it.
I was that teacher who came early and stayed late and brought in themed snacks to match the books we were reading. I sang songs about colors with exaggerated gestures and those facial expressions unique to teachers who are trying to get people to sing along.
I come from a long line of teachers (education is the family business) and we’re all equally committed. I remember my dad creating all his own worksheets for his Social Studies class and my mom’s holiday-themed clothes that kept her second graders endlessly entertained. (Christmas tree earrings, FTW.)
Like many passion professions, teaching expands to fill the space you give it. You’re never ‘done.’ You never look around your classroom and think “Welp, that’s it! I can go home and stop thinking about work because I’m finished.”
You can easily spend every evening and weekend poring over the curriculum, planning new units, fussing with bulletin boards.
And I frequently did. Slowly but surely, like so many teachers before me, I started to burn out. I’d check my email while my students practiced their keyboarding skills. I’d assign “silent reading” while I silently read my most recent issue of Real Simple.
This wasn’t who I wanted to be! Disappointed and overwhelmed, I called a huddle with my veteran teacher parents. I was hoping for some time management tips or a pep talk that would return me to my high-energy, super-engaged self.
But what they told me was a lot more realistic and a lot more useful.
“Well, of course, you can always do more. But if you do too much, you’re not giving them your best. You’re giving them a watered-down, exhausted version of your best. They don’t deserve that and neither do you.”
This applies to just about every area of our lives, doesn’t it?
When we have eight social commitments each week, it’s difficult to really be there for our BFF when she’s blindsided by a breakup. When we take on a zillion projects at work, it’s hard to give our passion projects the attention they deserve. When we post seven times a week, it’s hard to create the meaningful, longer pieces we’re really proud of.