Friday, September 27, 2013

Putting on a happy face...

Life gets crazy and stressful and it's hard to put on a brave and happy face. Right now, I'm on such an emotional roller-coaster I just don't even know which way is up. I'm not one for self-centered rambling---- but I need to talk.  I'm not looking for attention. Or words of wisdom. Or even one single comment. I just need to put this out there and get it off my chest. And right now... I have no one that I can be completely honest and open that with other you my cyber-friends. And it just feels right.

Sometimes I feel like I'm expected to feel a certain way. Like people hear about what's going on in my life and they feel excited or happy and so I'm expected to feel that way. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure somewhere deep down I do feel happy. But when people call me or email me or ask me about how things are going... and I don't act as happy or excited as they think I should... they start thinking something's wrong.  So then, I have to try to pretend to feel the way everyone thinks I should... just because I don't feel like talking about how I really feel. Or maybe I don't really know how I feel.

Maybe a little background would help...

I was working 2 jobs. I loved both of my jobs. One was retail and the other was as an aid at the elementary school (working one-on-one with a child). I went into school every morning at 7:30, left at 3:00 and went straight to my other job where I worked until 9pm. It was what I had to do to help make ends meet. I love my retail peeps. And as hard as my school job was... I was the only person in the school that could make that child comply and actually help learn. We had a special bond. (And I miss them all dearly... which doesn't help.)

Over the summer, I interviewed for a real teaching job at the school where I was working. I didn't get it. I then interviewed for 2 other jobs in 2 other districts. I didn't get those either. So, school started up and I went back to working both jobs. I was feeling defeated... I mean... I am in debt 50,000 dollars for a degree I can't even use. Makes you feel like you aren't good enough... when that's not really the case. The market is just so saturated.

Then, one day while I was eating lunch, I got a phone call. It was from a school district I hadn't even applied to. I had been recommended to them by one of the places I wasn't hired at over the summer. He said he wanted to interview me. What a switch. I accepted, of course. But the school is almost an hour from where we live. So I debated. But I knew that if I didn't at least interview... everyone would be angry with me. And maybe I'd be angry with myself at some later point. Maybe.

I interviewed and got the job. I should be ecstatic. Except that deep down I really was hoping I wouldn't get it. And that's something I haven't admitted to anyone. Because what a shitty way to feel. I mean... so many people out there want what I was able to get. Why didn't I want it? It's a long drive. It's a preschool program that is state funded by a grant. I've worked in this type of program before and I don't really like it. Plus, because it's a M-Th program, I don't make a full teacher salary (even though I work in my room on Friday doing paperwork). I make 89% of the starting teacher pay. Even though our program has so many mandates and regulations that I actually work more... and harder... than I did when I taught kindergarten. The room was completely bare, and there was too much work to get done in the 3 days before we started. And even though I'm really good at working with preschool-aged children, I don't really enjoy it like I used to. And there's so much more but I won't bother you with those.

I took the job. Of course. I was expected to take it. And I know I should be grateful that I have a teaching job... in a district... and that I'm making CLOSE to a normal salary. And damn it... I should be excited. Except I'm not excited. Fuck. That's not how I'm supposed to feel.

I walk into my room. Yes... I finally have my own room. And I feel dread. Not only is it completely empty. But no one has ordered any of my furniture... or toys... or manipulatives. How the hell am I supposed to entertain 16 4-year-olds with no materials?!?! So I spend 4 days in my room with my wonderful hubby helping me. And by the end I thought I'd feel happy. And more excited. And proud of myself that I finally got a job. But I'll be damned... I didn't. But my husband. Being the amazing man he is. He's telling me how proud of me he is-- how happy he is for me to have my own room again-- how thankful he is that we won't be struggling anymore. And now I feel guilty. Guilty that I don't feel the way he wants me to. The way everyone wants me to.  And I'm so tired of putting on a happy face. It's exhausting.

The end of my first day with kids. I get phone calls. They go something like this...

Caller- "So, how was your first day?"
Me- "It was ok. Busy and stressful... but it was ok."
C- "What's wrong? You don't sound happy? Do you think you made a mistake?
M- "No. I'm fine. Just tired and stressed" (as any new teacher would be... so stop bothering me!)
C- "Well... it'll get better. You're amazing with little kids, and I know you'll do a great job. You love this age!"
M- (Totally putting on a happy voice and trying to sound sincere) "Yup. I'm sure things will get better and I'm so happy to be back in preschool."

And on the inside I just feel like crap that I have to pretend and that I don't feel the way I should. And all I want to do is get off the phone. And not answer it again until I'm out of this mood. If that's what it is.

It's like this... for days. Today we had professional development. And I'm even more stressed than I was last night. I don't know how I'll ever get through some of the things I need to get done. Especially as I'm waiting for orders to be made and arrive... and for my aid to be hired... and so many other things that are not in my control. I can't do most of my work until someone else does theirs. Fuck me... I hate relying on other people to do their work so that I can finally get to mine! Since I'M the one being observed... and it's MY room that isn't stocked properly. It's all on me... except I have to wait for other people to order the stuff I asked for. And I have to wait on those orders to arrive before I can work for hours and hours putting stuff where it needs to be. Finally.

After my meetings were over today... I stopped and walked the beach. Living near Lake Michigan really has it's advantages. I walked back and forth, feet in the water, for almost an hour. Trying to get a handle on my feelings and trying to sort things out. It calmed me down... and did help me to get centered and focused. A little. But I'll take it.

I am so very lucky and thankful that I was hired (the feeling is there... it's just hidden beneath the bullshit right now). There is always the option to move to a different grade next year or when an opening arises. And that's an opportunity I didn't have available before. I am so grateful that I have such a wonderful support system and a husband who is so helpful and amazing. Driving 45-50 minutes to work is nothing compared to what some people have to drive. The other preschool teacher is very helpful and has provided me with everything she could to get me off and running this week... including sharing lesson plans and her daily schedule. My family is terrific... not many mothers would drive an hour to come and sew you curtains on a Saturday night with only 1 day notice. Nor would they PAY the $50 for the fabric because they knew you had already spent hundreds of dollars on other stuff... and then stay up until midnight to get them done because you were going to finish setting up the room the next morning.

My lack of excitement stems a lot from the chaos I'm in right now. I am in limbo with so many important things... and that creates a sense of panic. I don't want anyone to know I'm scared and worried though. That would just cause them to worry. Then I'd feel guilty and the cycle would just keep right on going. Another blogger wrote a post today that absolutely hits the nail on the head. No one wants to be vulnerable. And sometimes we just have to power through and pretend that we're ok. Eventually... we will be. It'll take some time. And a lot of sleepless nights full of anxiety. And hard work. But it'll happen.

I still don't feel the way everyone expects me to feel. I still have to put on a happy face and pretend to be excited. I still have to hide the fact that I'm scared shitless and worried and full of anxiety. I have to hide that there are things about my job that I absolutely despise... mainly about the program I'm in. But I can't change that. All I can do is find a way to get through it.

I can do this. And I will do this.

And I will kick-ass while at school and I'll show everyone what a great teacher I am. And when I'm at home, by myself, I can let the worry and dread out for a little while.

And things will get ordered. And a permanent aid will be hired. And, before you know it... things will actually be really good. And everything will be okay again.

I just have to keep it together long enough for the good stuff to get here.


  1. I know you said you weren't expecting any comments, but I'm commenting anyway. ;) Girl, we've all been there, even if most won't admit it. Hell, I've admitted my own hellish moments on my blog and it feels so good to just get it out, even if no one seems to give a shit or they give me shit for it. I know exactly what you mean about "I'm expected to act a certain way". No one else can possibly understand your personal thought process, and it's very hard to explain how you feel in these situations without bringing out some "wtf" in others. You just want to tell them to back off and let you have your Debby Downer moments, but you just can't because that's not "socially acceptable" and they'll probably recommend therapy like you're crazy and not just... I dunno... HUMAN. Those people live without passion and are probably too boring to understand colorful minds like ours.

    Not to hop on the band wagon or anything, but I hope you hang in there and see it out. Sometimes life sucks and nothing goes as planned, but maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of tunnel as a reward for sticking it out. I'm still waiting, but keeping up hope! I commute almost an hour to work, five days a week with almost sixty-five hours on the clock. And I love/hate what I do on an every day basis. You are completely normal. Don't give up and don't give in. *infinity hugs* Because you're fucking awesome.

    Just sayin,

    Nighty Poo

    1. Night... thank you for the comment. Really! I'm a little bit better today, and hopefully each day will show some improvement in my stress and attitude! And your comment really helped ;)

      Things are still crazy and I'm still waiting on my fucking stuff to get ordered. But, my room is how it is and there's nothing I can really do until I get my stuff. I'm trying to figure out how to just not let that bother me. It's a work-in-progress to say the least. Especially when I found out today that it'll be at least 2 weeks (hopefully he was talking about shipping time.... not 2 weeks until it was ordered)! And, still no permanent aid. But that too will eventually get solved.

      Driving 45-50 minutes sucks.... but I am enjoying it right now. It's gorgeous up here! I drive through some of the most beautiful color change territory. US-131, baby... it's amazing :) Disadvantage-- the morning drive is happening at 6:30am and is typically hard to see, lol. But seriously... there are few places more beautiful (and therapeutic) than the north-west side of Michigan. And I've really been using it to my advantage the past few weeks!

      I'm definitely gonna stick it out. There is a very high likelihood of a Kindergarten spot opening up next year... and that's what I taught for 2 years when we lived in TN. So all my stuff (lesson plans and materials I've made) is for that grade level. It would be nothing to just start right up. But we'll see how it goes. It's just nice to have the option.

      We all just have to keep pushing forward. And the other day... I just needed to get all that shit off my chest so I could finally breath. I'm mostly good now. And I'm hoping it'll just keep getting better as the weeks go by!

      Thanks again for the comment... it really did brighten my day! *hugs back*


  2. I had no idea you lived in michigan! I commute 131 evey friggin day. It's pretty but it is a beast. Lol Glad things are lookin up. Hugs.

    1. I fully agree. It's a gorgeous drive but it can be a bitch! I travel the northern part of it. Mancelona to just thru Kalkaska. Luckily traffic isn't bad at 6:30/7... but the drive home is just UGH. Lots of slow people! And 131 is only two thirds of my drive.... but once I turn off, it gets so much less busy :-)