A mindful, bumpy week

“NONONONONONONOO!” my mind screamed right before the inevitable ‘bump’.  I pulled my car into my parking spot and prayed the guy who had just hit me was nice.  The events of what just happened played over in my mind.  I’d backed up, stopped and was getting ready to turn, when a guy backed into me without looking.  The damage done to my car was a decent scratch and the damage to his van, a loose bumper.

Some may consider this past week of work (a novel of vents), losing one of my closest friends of 20 years and a car accident a pretty awful week.  Yet, when I got to work, the stress, overwhelming me, made me laugh.  A younger me would have felt defeated, but instead I laughed it off and began to see little things as a sign, a ‘bump’ if you will.

It started on Tuesday.  I had a heartfelt conversation with a dear friend and I finally admitted the words I’d been struggling to vocalize–“I’m burned out.”

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I have been in the Special Education field for over 4 years now.  Last March I got a job in Northern Virginia, wanting to be closer to family and due to poor staff treatment and burnout.  A year and 3 months later, that feeling is here again, for some of the same reasons, with new reasons in the mix.  We’re year round, so there’s no real break (minus the two weeks off we have for summer).

“You know what, it’s good you admitted that, that’s the first, most important step,” she responded.  She recently left a teaching job due to burnout and has fond a school and environment she loves and is growing in.  I can’t say that changing schools is going to fix this problem and seems to follow me.  I’m tired of the poor work/life balance, not having any downtime (I’m an introvert, albeit a social one), no breaks etc.  Every job has its pitfalls, but the pitfalls are affecting my health.

If you do a google search for ‘teacher burnout’ or ‘teacher career change’, you’ll stumble across a slew of search results and websites containing research and tens of thousands of personal stories from teachers burned out in their profession.  The ‘bumps’ of the past week and conversations with family and friends have made me feel God is trying to say something and that I shouldn’t keep covering up the truth.

Don’t get me wrong (and not to brag), but I’m a great teacher.  My students and other teachers love me, my evaluations have always been 4-5 in every area (out of 5).  I went into teaching to change lives, to be that person for my students, to teach, but with the way education is changing, there’s more and more demands.  I want my life back.

This has left me with a lot of decisions to make before signing my contract for next year (2 months).  I’m living in an expensive area that I’m growing weary of, but the less expensive areas are 30-40 minutes out and its a painful drive. If I broke my lease later in the year after I decide what direction to go, it’ll cost me around half my salary for the month, if not my whole salary.

If only I could live up to my name of ‘Wandering Rin’ and ‘wander’ for a bit ala “Eat Pray Love” style!

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