Sunday, March 19, 2017

Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin - Slice of Life 3/19/17

Friday night plans
I'm working up to writing a poem about what 43 years old looks like for me. I've pulled together several mentor texts and want to explore this topic of age with my students. One thing I've found as I've gotten older is that I'm far more comfortable with who I am and doing what I need to do for myself. I only wish I had been ok with that earlier.

I think the terms introvert/ extrovert tend to be overused. I still haven't read Quiet, but will one day. What I know about myself is that I can function in groups, I can speak to a crowd if I need to, although I don't enjoy it. Parties don't exhaust me, but I prefer small conversations. I don't think I fit easily into a box, but I doubt most of us do.

What works for me is balance. When I moved to my new school this year, I struggled a bit. We have two glorious preps a day where the students are out of the room. However at my old building (5th grade) I was on the top floor. If I had a prep, chances were I'd be by myself, no one wanted to climb those stairs. We didn't have common schedules, so there was little to fill my periods in the way of meetings. I'd decompress, relax, get stuff done, and go pick up the kids from a special. Lunch was on our own. Most people ran out to grab something, then came back. I ran home, talked to Rosie, relaxed some more, then went back to school rejuvenated and ready to begin again.

Moving to middle school this year was a bit of a shock to the system. My schedule was far easier than elementary school. However, those two preps a day were often spent meeting with colleagues. Lunch was shorter and everyone typically ate together in the lounge. I'd leave at the end of the day wound tight, I couldn't breathe. I felt like I had been "on" all day with no quiet, no time for headspace, no time for me. I loved my new colleagues, and my students, but struggled to figure out what to do to settle myself and not miss out on conversations we needed, and I wanted, to have.

Where I landed was on taking back my lunch. Thirty minutes isn't a lot, but my school is less that 1/4 mile from my home. I dash out to my van at the start of sixth hour, rush home, and sink onto the couch with Rosie. I typically make a quick protein shake, enjoy the quiet, and then head back. I do miss catching up with the colleagues I don't see each day, so I reserve Fridays to stay at school and eat in the lounge. The rest of the days are for me. Those few minutes are gloriously peaceful. Each time I cross the threshold into my home, my entire body melts.

This past Friday night I found myself in a similar situation. Some friends were going out to celebrate their birthdays. Some other friends invited us to their house. Chris knows me well enough by now to know what my answer was - home. He was welcome to go on his own, of course, but I needed to be here. I love my friends and treasure time with them. That being said, these past three weeks I feel that my seventh graders have needed me more than elementary students ever did. Comfort, advice, lectures, support are all ways I've given to my students - often putting my own needs last while I try to figure out how to help them. By the time we reached the days before spring break, I was mentally spent. To say I needed my time at home would be an understatement. I needed to be with the people who got me, without a word. Who knew whether to talk, or to give me space. It was a blessing.

My forties have been a decade of becoming ok with who I am, an awareness of when I feel off, and a realization that I'm the one that can fix it. It is a blessing I don't take lightly. I wouldn't say I'm confident, or have no issues, but I am becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin.

Slice of Life is a challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers