Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mid-Summer Crunch

Too often I've seen jokes online that 2016 is not real. With the election nonsense, senseless terrorist attacks, and celebrity drama, it can be funny to imagine that it's all a collective hallucination; as someone who struggles with dissociation, it's terrifying that my entire view of reality could unravel at once in a brutal panic attack.

On Tuesday, we had a professional development (PD) session about self care. Somehow the PD did more to break apart my mental health balance than to help. It's that point in the summer when everyone's nerves are wearing thin and people snap at each other. I've snapped at people, and I've been snapped at. Yesterday, I was frustrated, I snapped at someone when I had the option to stay silent, and now I feel horrible for it. It doesn't help that I'm overwhelmed by the social expectations of Breakthrough, to be there for the students all the time. My boat has finally hit rough waters, and even though it's well equipped to handle the storm, it doens't make me any less overwhelmed and anxious and stressed and mean.
"I'm fine // Drop tears in the morning // Give in to the lonely
Here it comes with no warning // I capsize, I'm first in the water
Too close to the bottom // I'm right back where I started
Said I'm fine"
I'm trying to unlearn toxicity and I'm trying so hard to be good and kind but sometimes I'm tired and careless and all the worst parts of me come bubbling up to the surface and I say something that sends me back to square one. That was the situation yesterday, and I also snapped at a student for breaking a pair of sunglasses that he was lent by another teaching fellow. In both of these situations, my quips were completely unnecessary and I wish I had handled it differently, but it's too late. What is said is done. The best I can hope for is a chance to apologize in order to move on so things smooth over.

I've been sustaining myself by checking in with friends electronically, but even those check ins are few and far between. Everyone is spread out so far across the globe: Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and Europe. If the time zones don't deter communication, the sheer amount of time commitment in this program puts a damper in the time I have to catch up. For me, an anxious introvert, it is especially difficult to want to make friends. I don't want to let many more new people into my life unless they do fill that criteria of a level four friend. It's too many expectations to fulfill if I'm letting people in to my mental burdens.

In this setting where everyone is intensely close for sustained periods of time, it's difficult not to let people in, but for my own good I need to set boundaries and understand that for me, I'm not here to make friends. These are first and foremost the people I work with. I physically spend a lot of time with them, but I'm not emotionally close to them, and it's important for me to remember that I don't need to be. I am not beholden to them. However, on the flip side, even though I am here to do a job, the job is people. And when people are the job, it's not possible to have it my way all the time. It's still something I'm working on and struggling with.

Tonight I'm taking time to deliberately reset and refresh. Music, face mask, nails, the whole nine yards. I need it more than anything. If I can't be my best self for myself, then I'm definitely not my best self for my students. I'd like to continue to communicate my idiosyncrasies to my coworkers, so they know that when I micromanage, it's due to my stress, not that they're doing anything wrong. It would be helpful for the both of us if they would be blunt with their feedback. I'm in a good place with organization, lesson plans, and finishing my responsibilities. It doesn't matter that there's no special occasion, it is time to breathe and prepare so tomorrow is a great day. ◊

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