Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

Growing up I watched my very motivated father work his fingers to the damn bone. If there was a retake needed by a football player, he’d stay until 6 to give it to them. If a parent meeting needed to happen at 5 am or 9 pm, he’d make it happen. If he needed to learn Spanish or trombone to get the information across, he’d do it.

Every evening I watched him get home late and fall asleep minutes after sitting down. And every single school break I watched him get horribly sick and spend his time off recovering.

When I started teaching I promised myself I would find a way to work for my kids, to give them every chance I can, without burning myself out.

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I have been blessed with a team of co-workers who are caring and understanding, who always look out for me. My co-teacher tells me often to take care of myself. The beginning of every department meeting is either a self care check-in (where we talk about our specific self care goals and what we are doing to reach them this week) or a self care practice (Tai Chi, guided meditation, etc.) My Assistant Principal meets with me once a week to lesson plan/unit plan/revise curriculum/talk about what’s not working and how to fix it. My in-school mentor meets with me once a week to talk about literally anything I need help with.

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I’m supported, much more so than a lot of teachers. I’m lucky and I know it. But still I got caught with a case of ignoring my own needs.

Last Monday I got up at 4 and laid on my couch sobbing because my head was pounding so hard I couldn’t move. I called in sick but by noon the fever, headache and general ick was so bad I couldn’t stop crying.

I went to the clinic in the afternoon (I’ll be honest I went mostly because I wanted to be at work the following day) and found out I had a high fever, a sinus infection, and an ear infection.

My point is: don’t do this. Don’t let it get this bad. I was sick, really obviously sick and tried to push too hard through it and for what?

Americans especially have this notion that if you are not absolutely killing yourself at work, you’re lazy. I can’t say this enough times: that’s bullsh*t.

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In Peru, we would work from about 7- or am until lunch, go get lunch and take a nap or spend time with family, and then go back to work from 3 until 5 or 6. Yeah, that’s a three hour lunch. We also took 20-30 minutes breaks throughout the day to sit and talk.

At first I was torn apart by the difference and went to the go-to argument so many others have used (or at least thought in their head): well maybe if they worked more, their country would be more advanced. This, my friends, is also bullsh*t.

The reasons that many countries struggle has more to do with internal structure and corruption than with amount of hours worked. Hard work may be important, but worker bees working their buzzers off with no break  will not improve a country or a city or a workplace or a person.

I suppose the moral of the story is: put in the work, do whatever it is you do the best that you possibly can, but remember that half of being your best is treating yourself well. Work hard, self care hard.

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Best of luck.

Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

Competition

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Yes it’s been a while, I do apologize for that. I could make excuses about grad school and mental health and the impending gorilla attack on mankind, but who has the time? Instead, let’s get back to it, shall we?

I would not characterize myself as a competitive person. I also would not characterize myself as a not competitive person. On a scale of “come on guys, aren’t we all just here to have fun?” to Abbi from Broad City requiring a full nelson to calm down, I’d say I’m a six.

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No matter how obnoxious you are playing board games at Christmas with your family though*, I’m referring to a more dangerous type of competition. I’m talking about that guarded, self conscious, ‘am I the smartest/most qualified/prettiest/most liked person in the room’ competition that cuts down others in order to build you up and still leaves you feeling like a caged animal.

When I started my fellowship in January, the first step was to meet the highly qualified, highly terrifying group of other fellows. I went in smiling, but behind that smile was a pure, unfair hope to be the best, the obvious best, to demolish all tasks. Oh you want me to read and annotate this article? I will annotate the living hell out of it! I need to sign this form? My signature shall be the loopiest, most beautiful and professional that’s ever been seen! I shall introduce myself such as none has ever done! I shall crush these ice-breakers under an iron fist!

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You get it.

It was unhealthy, it was stupid and it made me so nervous and on-guard that I don’t remember much about the meeting. The competition that I felt had absolutely nothing to do with anyone else in the room, it came from me; my insecurities about whether I belong in a prestigious program at an ivy. It came from my fear of what happens if I fail here. About what it means if I’m the lowest of the fellows.

 

And who, exactly, is deciding whether I belong or I fail or I suck?

Me.

That’s the truth of it. I’m in control. I’m the one manning the positive thoughts and negative thoughts lever. I’m the monster in the machine. So this monster is going to try to be more logical and love herself enough to crush the negative thoughts instead of the competition.

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Because if you rearrange the letters in competition, you get “I comp one tit” and neither one of these is free…also, competition is stupid, love yourself, etc.

Best of luck!

 

*You are, they’ve all been meaning to talk to you about it

10 Things: Bad Worker Edition

The last week and a half has been…how could I describe it?

It’s been like when you eat almond butter too quickly and realize too late that it’s getting hard to swallow.

But the almond butter’s on fire.

I watched someone I liked well enough get fired, then watched someone I did not like resign, then got a promotion, then got slapped in the face by gossip, then worked a lot to keep up and finally I was threatened with a law suit.

Sales, man. Sales.

Anyway all that madness inspired this round of “10 Things.” A list of all the things you should never do at work even if they’re really, really tempting.* Continue reading