Its the 1st real day of my summer.
For the past 2 years I've been teaching in the 7th grade of a private school (6 through 12) that my niece and soon my nephew attend. The job landed on my lap quite unexpectedly on October 2015 and I, with much trepidation, took the chance. A leap of faith with so many uncertainties and insecurities. Just about the only thing I had faith in was that I would be earning a steady income again.
As I ponder what to focus on for this particular post, I'm most struck by a conversation I had with a parent of one of the students I just taught this past year. It was a conversation that I was apprehensive about because I wasn't sure what we were going to be talking about and I really wasn't all too thrilled about a talk with a parent about potentially stressful topics on my 1st real summer day.
Instead, what I was gifted with was a wonderful conversation filled with many, many connections and beautiful insights into am amazing person that I briefly got to know as a student in my classroom. Just goes to show, that sometimes things are never what you would expect them to be and indeed, all's well that ends well.
Or maybe I should just say: "What a great way to start my 1st day of summer!"
For the last 3 years or so, I've been in a weird sort of limbo. Events in my life left me questioning myself and what I wanted and I found myself at a loss to connect with the spirit I had when I started this blog and when I started my fun-employment. It was a state of mind that I was not used to: I'm usually extremely optimistic, open-minded and able to find the shiny silver lining in everything. I felt a little tired and unmotivated. These things that I used to find so much joy in were no longer a source of joy. They made me tired. They made me doubt myself and my choices and they made me want to retreat. Even dancing wasn't as enjoyable (oh yes, saying this IS a big deal). While in this state, the introverted side of me took over while the extrovert in me was at a loss for what to do.
To be clear: I didn't hate my life and I wasn't sad about anything in particular. I was tired, and I felt disconnected and uninspired. There were still moments of enjoyment and happiness but there was nothing that I ever really got excited about and when someone suggested I reconnect with the purpose that originally gave me a lot of joy I was stumped: what was it again? That thought just made me tired and then I wanted to just retreat to watching and reading my guilty pleasures: anime and manga.
I found comfort in being with my sister's family. My niece and nephew are growing up fast and they continue to have the magical ability to make me smile. They do ignore me from time to time and I no longer can get them to smile and do something cute for me but they still give me hugs, which I love, so I'm milking that until the day (hopefully never) when they say "ok, no more hugging."
What was interesting too was that the judge in me also took a hiatus. I wasn't really doing anything earth shattering or life changing. I was just coasting. Normally the judge in me would be making me feel guilty about the misuse of time, of wasting my life doing nothing, or making me feel guilty about not living up to me full potential. Throughout this limbo, that voice was absent. Ultimately I told myself, this way of being is ok for now. I know things will evolve into something else eventually.
In the midst of that there was family crisis and old injuries resurfacing and my body going through change. All these things would create moments of emotion, but nothing that drove me to do anything differently. In fact, when I started to think about things more, I just got more tired.
For a while I wondered if I was suffering from depression. Here's a list of symptoms and I underlined the ones that applied to me:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Sure, if I was depressed it was certainly in its early stages but I thought, why worry? and fell back to watching and reading and sleeping. Occasionally I would go out and socialize, bake goodies for friends, make toys, fold origami and take classes to learn something new. These moments took a lot out of me but they were good: it connected me to the things that I always enjoyed and had fun doing and it made me be more of myself and not this person that wasn't interested in much else in life.
About the only thing that drove me was teaching in school. For some reason, I felt it important that as a math teacher to 7th graders, the one thing I didn't want to be is "that" math teacher who scars a kid for life and makes them "hate the math". This drove me to try different strategies in the classroom and it made my teaching year quite fruitful and rewarding and slowly but surely, the state of limbo is starting to dissipate.
Teaching dance wasn't the same. I felt that my dance "career" was in limbo as well. It was a place where my expertise and relevance were constantly being questioned or unappreciated or overlooked. I wasn't really up for some of the drama that comes with the territory and when I did surface, somehow drama found me and I just wanted it to "go away". Dancing itself was fun when I danced. It was hard because old injuries aggravated my body so the pain and maintenance after was also tiring. There were moments of light: learning from other instructors, collaborating with some other dancers and many people who told me how much they appreciated what I've done and accomplished (thank you all!).
So here I am, ready to write again. (slowly but surely) which also means ready to re-engage. I'm still taking things slowly but they are starting to change. Limbo is not an option anymore and I'm slowly getting acquainted with who "me" is becoming.