By Friday I was so depleted. I had nothing left to give. I had suffered blows and attacks all week long and bore the weight of every negative comment or individual teacher’s problem or issue that came back to me that week. It was just too much for me this week. By 4:00 pm on Friday when I said goodbye to the student I was keeping for after school detention, all I could do was the bare minimum of a weekly email and head home.
I kept asking myself, “Why am I doing this? What difference am I making? Who am I even helping? This job is so not worth it…I am not cut out for this. Surely, there is something else out there where I can make a difference that doesn’t take this toll on me.”
You ever feel this way? I have no big aha’s or insights to give at this time, but I can share what I did to make it to Friday. First, I breathed. A lot. Not kidding. You know that feature on your Apple Watch? Yup. I used it as well as an app called, “Simple Habit.” Every morning before work I did at least 5 minutes of meditation. Filling myself with this before work gave me something to draw upon when the “stuff” came at me.
Meditation is part of my morning routine that I go through as I get ready. I start every morning with a shower then I head to my home office and I use an app called Morning Routine to help me complete my daily routine. Within the app I set up routines like my morning routine, my work routine, and my end of the day routine. The app will time each part of your routine and reward you with an inspirational quote when you finish a routine. My morning routine includes meditation, devotion, prayer, gratitude, and affirmations.
It’s normal when you are feeling the negativity coming your way to want to respond in kind–to hit right back with negativity or defensiveness. There were times this week when I did just that–even if it was just in my head. I judged the person, student, or the student’s family who was hitting me with the issue, problem, or attack and stewed in my self-righteousness. I’m going to tell you, while those judgements gave me a quick hit of justification and self-satisfaction, they left me feeling even more depleted. The times where (even in my head) where I responded with empathy, love, and forgiveness are what got me through to Friday.
Now, I don’t want you to think that when, for example, I was cussed at by a parent earlier in the week I was able to transcend that and be nice to her and respond with love right away. That was not going to happen, but I could respond in love to someone else. I purposely and intentionally did something nice for someone to give them a boost and it really did help me feel better. By the time the parent called to apologize a couple of days, I was ready to accept it with grace.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t use these strategies successfully 100 percent of the time this week. There were several times were I leaned into my own negativity and justification. Those times did nothing to advance my own cause and just left me feeling worse. Then to make things worse, I beat myself up for all of it and every other shortcoming I have. Last night I spent the evening binge-watching season 8 of The Walking Dead and as tears streamed down my face thinking about Carl’s letters (those of you who watch it know what I’m talking about) I felt sorry for myself thinking about every mistake I’ve ever made personally and professionally.
One last strategy that I am using in this moment is reflection. For me it helps me to write. It helps me to evaluate my actions throughout the week and think about what I’ve learned, how I can do better, and how what I’ve gone through can help someone else. Right now I’m hoping someone will read this and be able to relate to what I am feeling and at least feel like he or she is not alone. If nothing else, it helps me to get past the week before and not dread Monday.
Sometimes it’s all we can do to get to Friday. Last week was that kind of week for me. I think my big takeaway is to accept that. It was a bad week. I had times where I responded well to the challenges and times when I could have done better. It is what it is. I also know that every week is not always like that. Dreading and worrying about what might come at me next week will only ruin my present moment. My biggest successes were when I suspended my judgement and responded with love somehow. That’s what got me through and filling myself up before the day started with a solid morning routine helped me to have something to draw from when the well was dry. By the end of the week my well was completely dry, but I survived. Sometimes that’s all you can do–just survive–and that’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day and next week is a new week. While I have no idea what will hit me, I know I can get through it. I know I will make it until Friday and some weeks that’s enough.