It’s been a stressful past two weeks. I was senior sponsor for Homecoming. We’ve had daily rehearsals for our one-act play. I’ve had observations by our local service unit and the department chair of our local college (and as much as I’d like to say that doesn’t make me nervous, it’s still an energy zapper).
I may or may not have eaten an entire bag of cheese popcorn and a bag of dark chocolate chips this weekend.
This was the first time this school year when I felt myself slipping under the water, where every time I crossed something off my to-do list, two more things popped up. I was simply surviving the days, dragging myself home, and procrastinating my ever-growing list. I was missing the proverbial forest for the trees–focusing only on what I had to do and forgetting about my long-term goals, my vision to help others, my commitment to my blog.
Then I ran across this Facebook post:
Could you believe this made me grateful for stress? OK, maybe not super grateful for the stress itself, but a reminder that teaching –and the stress that comes with it–is what creates meaning in my life. Sharing engaging, playful ideas for the classroom creates meaning for me. Presenting at conferences and meeting other fantastic educators creates meaning for me. In her TED talk, Kelly McGonigall also talks of the health benefits of stress, and no surprise, one of the biggest is the oxytocin boost we get when we….help others!
I’d venture that we all have weeks–or multiple weeks–where we feel overwhelmed with teaching and all the meetings, paperwork, and “duties as assigned” that go with this profession. And, at least for me, it’s so easy to have tunnel vision, to survive just long enough to leave school by 5pm, grab a bag of my favorite white cheddar popcorn and collapse in my living room.
However, I can’t forget to be grateful that I’m doing what I love doing. As the post says, we have to trust ourselves that we will be able to handle the stress, that we will get through this, that we are making a difference and doing what we enjoy.
This week I was accepted into the doctoral program at the University of Nebraska (back to my first alma mater–GO HUSKERS!), and for that I’m extremely grateful. But I’m also extremely anxious about the load that is going to come with taking doctoral classes and writing a dissertation the next 4 years.
I have no idea how much stress this program will introduce into my life. Yet, anytime we push ourselves to innovate and take risks, we’re going to experience stress. It’s the cover charge for growth. As hard as it is, and will be, we need to take a moment and view stress from that perspective: BECAUSE we have jobs where we teach amazing kids, jobs where we get to innovate and create, we will have stress.
The next time you’re at your wits end with a never-ending to-do list, here’s your challenge (and a challenge I make to myself):
Be grateful. You are a teacher; you are making a difference in others lives; you are creating meaning in your own life. Stress is simply a by-product of having great job of Educator.