This is actually going to be a multi-post series about my plans to manage stress this fall, I'm thinking. And can I SAY that I am LOVING blogging like this again? Let me circle back to that. In the meantime, grab your beverage:
But in a nutshell, this is what I have been struggling with lately:
Work/life balance, to be precise. I don't want to dwell on it (because one of my goals for the week is to keep a more positive frame of mind), but I feel overwhelmed. I've experienced a big change at work, and it looks like this: I'm teaching 15, 1-credit classes, and that translates to 15 hours of teaching each week, with approximately 330 students. So, that's 330 potential emails to answer in a given week, and 330 assignments to grade. I'm not in any way saying that this is more onerous that what you all are dealing with on a daily basis. We all have our crosses to bear, this just happens to be mine right now. And because it is so different from what I used to be doing, I'm having a difficult time managing it.
Teaching is performing in a sense, and for an introvert, it's very exhausting. But I can handle that. For the most part. ;-) I've been really tired, but I'm making it. Here's the thing though: it's *everything else.*
My daily schedule is so frenzied between actively teaching, putting out small fires that come up during class with confused students and technology problems abounding, preparing for the next week's lesson plan, and answering more confused emails, that I feel like I can't catch my breath. And the emails go something like this:
"I'm confused. I know you told us where the outline was with the class schedule. But I've looked EVERYWHERE and I can't find it. Where is it?!"
*long time lapse while Tiffany composes herself*
"It's in the folder [on our course management system] labeled 'START HERE.'"
If only I worked in a Mad Men-esque universe in which I had a cart full of scotch and whiskey tucked into the corner of my office for just such occasions. :0 Being sloshed may improve my disposition in answering these emails.
Peeps. I spent 45 minutes with each group of students last week showing them step-by-step how to set up their ePortfolio for class. There is also a screenshoted handout with step-by-step instructions for how to set up the ePortfolio. And do you want to know what I find (not in all cases, but in enough) when I go in to grade them on whether or not they successfully created the ePortfolio?
"Let's see, John Smith, did he complete the ePortfolio setup? Wait, what?"
John Smith. Title of ePortfolio: Eng 105 INSERT YOUR LAST NAME HERE
I.Am.Not.Joking. I just...
*scream face emoji!*
Yesterday, I had a low moment. I thought to myself:
"Am I doing something wrong? Were the directions I thought were so simple actually INCREDIBLY complicated and I just didn't realize it? I am having a librarian identity crisis!"
The emails. So many emails. But it's not their fault I have so many students. They just want help for themselves, and they're entitled to it, and from a librarian who is kind and patient with them.
Usually that is second nature to me. But lately? Friends, I've been struggling, big time. Everything that I described above: the lack of time to collect myself during in-person teaching weeks, the frenzied weekly pace, the countless frustrating emails... they're all setting off my anxiety triggers. I feel anxious ALL THE TIME right now. I'm doing my best to act like my usual happy, calm self, but inside, I don't even recognize myself anymore. This Current Inside Tiffany is surly and annoyed all the time, and I don't like her very much.
I had a Come to Jesus session over the weekend. I discerned a few things.
First, this blog. Blogging was always fun for me, but lately? Even the lighthearted life-y posts have been difficult for me to write. I felt pressured when I wrote them, because there were so many other things requiring my attention at that same moment. Do I need to discontinue this blog as a result? No, I don't think so. Here is what I DO know:
I need more prayer in my life. I also need more positive thoughts in my work life. I need to be more prayerful and recollected throughout my work day, so that I can bring joy and ease to others, not impatience and irritability. Does blogging fit into this? It very much does. This blog started out as an online, public journal for me. It remains so to this day. It has only become stressful for me to write because I've been putting pressure on myself to write these long posts, and to maintain a very specific schedule. I used to blog more frequently, but my posts were much shorter.
Yesterday was an experiment. I set aside a short amount of time, had something on my heart, and used that window, and that window only, to blog about it. Bam! I finished it and off it went to you all. And I felt GOOD afterward. It was cathartic and joyful to write like that. THAT is how I will approach blogging from now on. You'll actually be seeing MORE posts for me now. They'll be shorter, but they'll be fun and they help keep me sane. Win/win.
I'm also feeling really excited and inspired about some ideas that I discerned on how to use this blog to also aid on the prayer and anxiety-easing front. BUT my writing window for the day is done, so it'll have to wait til tomorrow. ;-) Tomorrow is another day though, another blogging day, my friends! Stay tuned, because I think you'll like it. And you can participate too. ;-) Curious? I'll see you tomorrow!
In the meantime, who else struggles with anxiety? What are some of your coping mechanisms? If you feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear from you. *heart*