I’ve made the decision that Friday WILL be my lowest point of the year. It will be, because I feel like I’m making clear steps forward and learning from my own mistakes.
Has my school frustrated me? YES. I’m a music teacher with no instruments, no piano, no sound system to even PLAY music for the kids, and a classroom that is so packed with desks, the kids can’t move. I’ve got a smart board that won’t work because I only have a chrome book and the school-issued laptop remains…missing in action?
I understand that you can teach music in a hut on a dirt floor. I get that. I get that we don’t need any of that other stuff.
But when I’m told that I need to organize more than 200 kids into a winter concert for hundreds of parents and the entire faculty (all are required to go), then I start losing it.
This is one of the biggest PR events the school has this semester. And I’m in charge of it…with no guidance, no advice, no budget (apparently), no instruments, no piano, and no sound system. The grass roots approach isn’t going to cut it in a school-wide, parent-watched function.
This is an opportunity for us to set the bar high for this new school, and I literally DAYDREAM about this amazing concert with 200+ kids. But I know my limitations. I get stressed, and I have anxiety. I’ll smile at someone and act social, but inside I’m fighting the impulse to run away and curl up in my bed.
I’m an introvert with the job to be a fearless ringleader in front of hundreds of people. I’m a shy, low-key person with the job to engage and inspire hundreds of middle schoolers every day.
I’m trying to shove a square peg in a round hole.
I keep thinking it’s worth it. Music is my lifeline, and I want to share that (and raise the bar, too!). But is it going to kill me? Because on Friday, it felt like it would.
I started out the day, stressed that I needed to fix two small things in my classroom and I wasn’t sure how to fix them. They were lines of name tags that kept falling. The “stress” I authentically felt kept me up the whole night before. I struggle with insomnia, so if there’s one bit of worry mixed in (every day), I just don’t sleep.
So I drove in to work, already sick with exhaustion and perhaps unfounded worry. Overnight, maintenance had ripped down all of my name tags (which took me HOURS to set up–guess I didn’t need to worry about those two lines). They also ripped down my homemade bulletin board and posters. **Important note** I’m not crafty. This sh*t was not easy for me to do, so I was proud of it. They put up bulletin boards. Because, you know, I clearly needed an empty bulletin board over basic classroom procedure.
I felt sick. The anxiety spiked. HARD. I had four classes in a row, so three hours without eating, in a hot classroom, since they haven’t installed my air conditioner. It’s my fancy door stop. I didn’t drink any water, either. My head was splitting open in pain and I felt sick to my stomach.
I got a migraine at school. This actually happened 15 years ago and I ended up throwing up in a trash can and in my car. Lovely.
This time was different because I left school in an ambulance. Ugh.
For an introvert, this is TORTURE. I knew I got migraines, and I knew I had anemia, and I knew I had anxiety, but I never did anything about them.
So I’m finally taking control, both with teaching and with my anxiety. I’m still lost on how I’m going to hook these kids, but I’m planning a concert this weekend. I’m planning what I think will work, since they’ve given me no mentor/guidance. I’m writing down the instruments I want, and then I’ll submit it to them.
I took this job with the dream of revolutionizing the music program in a school that hasn’t invested in it at all. If I can see this as a jumping off point, a low point, I can fight against it and put on a great concert.
The important part of this, and the reason I wanted to blog about it, is that I want to remember what it felt like with anxiety and borderline depression. I’m seeing my doctor on Wednesday and I’m telling him that I need help with anxiety. I can’t function when I’m so worn down with worry. He had brought up anti-anxiety medication before, but I shrugged it off, saying I’d try natural methods first (exercise, diet, etc.). It didn’t work. Yes, my situation is stressful, but it’s NOT IMPOSSIBLE. I have to remember that.
I’m typically optimistic, and I just can’t see anything good right now. I know I need help. And I hope one day someone like me returning to work will read this and know they’re not alone. I shouldn’t have fallen apart from a few bulletin boards. I shouldn’t be lying awake every night worrying about every single possible problem. I shouldn’t fear returning to work.
I should speak up when they rip my stuff down, but then be able to LET IT GO.
I should be able to SLEEP when I’m understandably exhausted.
I should be EXCITED about putting on a concert with kids who have boundless energy.
Who I am is shrouded in anxiety, and it’s time to take control. Friday WILL be my lowest point, because I learned from it.
Who I am is a funny, fierce, optimistic, enthusiastic, slightly crazy, creative teacher. I want that side of me to come back out.
And with that being said, I need to plan some lessons for this week…