The Importance of Slowing Down

I was looking through my phone the other day and found some pictures I took at the school I taught at last year. I was doing a project in one of my classes and took pictures of the students to document it.

I saw the pictures and my heart started throbbing. That happens every time I think back to last school year. My heart is still so full when I remember everything that happened.

When I started teaching at a new school (which happens to be in my hometown) this school year, I had zero idea about what it would be like. Being able to teach at a school and still live at home with my boyfriend came at a high emotional price and I felt far from euphoric when the school year started.

And then, it started. Well, actually, it rolled over me. Crashed into me. Drowned me.

The first five weeks of school, I really did feel like I was drowning. Going from teaching 8 lessons a week to more than double the amount was something I completely underestimated, along with the fact that there was so much to find out about how things are done at my current school. Anyone who has changed work places knows what I’m talking about – but, as I have never changed work places prior to this, it was new for me.

I love teaching. I love preparing lessons. I love having so much to do that I need a “to do”-list. A friend of mine lovingly calls me a “work animal”, which makes sense in German, not so much in English.

But, after those first five weeks of school, I was seriously doubting whether this was what life should be like. I was working 10-11 hours daily – and no, I’m not exaggerating. And I didn’t hate it, not at all! But it’s definitely not possible to continue working that much over a longer period of time without feeling its effects.

I met my edge, big time. Every Friday, like clockwork, I’d come home from school and cry for an hour, feeling utterly exhausted and terribly depressed about being so exhausted. It’s not something I experience that often (at least not to that extent). As long as I get enough  sleep – which I was getting, despite the work load – I am pretty good to keep going for a while.

But I realized, perhaps for the first time in my life, that even if you love your job, work can’t be everything.

I know that’s not a new concept. I’m just a little slow on the uptake concerning it, which is why I guess it has taken me until now to understand. Some shop till they drop – I work till I drop, because it gives me a feeling of being useful and of value. I’m guessing it’s the remains of my eating disorder ways that make me a bit extreme in that area.

Slow down.

That’s what everyone suggests I do.

Slowing down.

Foreign concept for me, but thankfully it’s been possible. I didn’t slow down because I necessarily followed advice, but I have been able to due to various reasons. And, now that I have, I realize what I’ve been doing to myself for the past six weeks.

I had some problems with head aches last year, but this year’s head aches have been different. I had a full-blown migrane last weekend that lasted from Friday to Saturday night, the longest I’ve ever had a head ache. I feel extremely tired all the time and am proud of myself for doing small things like cooking dinner. There’s a reason I haven’t been posting on here…I have been trying to survive life and there just hasn’t been any extra energy.

The importance of slowing down is allowing yourself to feel tired. Allowing yourself to feel the exhaustion, the frustration that comes with it, the imperfection of being human. I have a really hard time with that, as anyone who knows me will gladly confirm. I am NOT good at anything less than perfect. Yet that’s what I am and that’s what I apparently need to aim for if I want to survive another year of teacher’s training – and a life of being a teacher after that.

Let’s hope I am not slow to grasp this.

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