It only took me until Monday this week to realize I wouldn’t have the time or, more importantly, the energy to write a reading-related blog post this week. We’ll get back to that soon, I promise.
But why didn’t I have the time and energy, you might wonder?
Because I started my new job this week! And any teacher can tell you that the back to school season does not leave time or energy for much besides back-to-schooling.
The other reason I’m writing a reflection post is because writing is a huge part of how I process, and boy do I need an outlet for all the emotions.
Here are a few things I’ve been reflecting on this week:
Emotions, Transition, and Being the New Kid
Yesterday, at the end of the day, I cried in my classroom. (Lisa, if you’re reading this, don’t worry. I promise I’m okay. Tears are good.) I’d been on the verge of tears for a few hours, but managed to shove it down – unless a kind co-worker (and there were several) asked, “How are you doing?” and then I had to choke back tears.
All I could think about while the tears seeped out of my eyes was, “I don’t even know why I’m crying!”
The only tangible reason I could think of was that I really wished I could just go find my coworker-friend G and say that I need a hug. She always gives them, no questions asked (til after the hug anyway), but she just happens to be on another continent than me. And all “my people” being so far away made me unutterably sad.
Now, if I’m being rational – which is questionable right now, btw – I know that there are actually several reasons for my tears. The biggest one being that I moved continents and jobs within the last 6 weeks.
Yep, I think that reason pretty much encompasses all the other reasons.
I’ve felt overwhelmed this week mostly because starting over in a new place is so dang hard and exhausting. I knew that, but I had forgotten what it feels like.
A year from now, I’m going to be feeling great, because instead of trying to memorize names, faces, and job titles of the people around me, I’ll know all except the new people.
Instead of not knowing whether or not I have a hole puncher and stapler in my desk, I’ll know where I put those types of supplies.
Instead of having to use Google maps to find the nearest Walmart, office supply store, and teacher store, I’ll know exactly how to get there.
Instead of having to ask where the laminator is and double checking that I interpreted the note about how long to wait for it to heat up, I could be the one to explain it to a new teacher.
Instead of wondering who I talk to about getting tables lowered in my room, it will be second nature to email the right person for the job.
It’s so crazy to me that no matter how many years I teach, going to a new school automatically means feeling like a rookie and a clueless person all over again. It’s just a fact: when a person is new, they don’t know how things operate in that particular place.
I’ve been at work now for five days, and it’s pretty incredible how much a person can learn in a week’s time.
For instance, I can tell you which grades are on which floor of our building. I can also tell you *some* of the teachers’ names in each grade. I also know some of the office people and their job titles.
I navigated to and from school without Google maps for at least half of the week, if not more – including multiple routes to get home. Plus, I can now tell you where to find a Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Lakeshore Learning, Office Depot, car mechanic, Dollar Tree, and library somewhere around/between school and home.
I even have a Georgia driver’s license now (even though it’s just the temporary paper version).
All of those things feel like victories, even if I haven’t had a chance yet to make lesson plans for the first days of school.
And even when I feel like a culturally-bumbling klutz as I reenter life in the U.S.
Poco a poco.
It will all get done.
And in the meantime, I’ll be thankful for the teacher who popped over after I’d stopped crying just to chat and tell me her own connection to Indiana.
Insecurities and Identity
I don’t know why it is that when I make a transition I struggle so much with insecurity and a crisis of identity, but I do. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who struggles when they’re put in a new place, because I’ve learned that pretty much all my experiences as a human are not totally unique.
To combat all the insecurities about identity, I’ve been preaching to myself all week these truths:
- I am a beloved daughter of the Most High King.
- I am competent as a teacher, because He has made me competent.
- I have valuable ideas and skills to contribute to my new workplace.
- I am loved by people, even though those people are far away.
- I do belong, even when I feel like an outsider.
- This is where God wants me, even in the moments that I question it because it feels hard.
Maybe you need some of these affirmations too? Feel free to use them 🙂
The Closeness of God
closer than our very breath
I’ve been reminded this week of how close God is and how involved He is with the details of my life (and yours too) -first in the sermon on Sunday and then through a couple of mid-week experiences.
One of those was when I went to do a pre-employment drug screening. I, of course, googled where it was and called to hear what hours they were open. My plan was to get there right at 8am to get it done and head to work.
Well, I didn’t get there right at 8am. Partly because I left later than I intended and also partly because when I got close, I turned too early. So then the GPS (thank God for those!) rerouted me around a few streets and I turned back onto the busy road, and then turned too early again. Into an empty lot of an empty building.
Finally, on the third try, I turned into the correct place, parked and walked in.
It was one of those office buildings where different businesses rent out different rooms/suites/floors, so I had to refer to my piece of paper for the suite number and orient myself.
Just as I did, a family approached me, the little girl taking the lead.
“Please where do they take the blood for kids?” she asked, motioning to the crook of her arm.
I took in the appearance of the group: family of four, dark hair, Latino-looking appearance, and how the kid was the spokesperson. I asked if they spoke Spanish. A look of relief crossed the mother’s eyes, and I asked to see the address on their papers to try to find their suite number.
They actually were super close to the place where they needed to go, but you sure couldn’t tell from the solid wooden door – just a sign to the right of it. From being a language learner in Ecuador, I know that signs only help if you know what you’re looking for.
I helped them make sure that door was correct, said goodbye to them, and then headed to the elevator. Only to find, when I got to the solid wooden door of where I was supposed to enter, a sign that said, “Hours: 8am-whatever; Drug screenings: 9am-whatever.”
I glanced at my watch.
And you know what?
If I hadn’t made those wrong turns and left late, which actually turned out to be leaving early, I wouldn’t have been there to help that family.
Would they have figured it out or found someone else to ask?
But I was really thankful that I could put my Spanish to use to help out that sweet family, and say a prayer for the health of whichever child needed to get their blood drawn and for peace for their family.
Because I’ve been in their shoes on another continent, needing help with things like doctors and banks and stores.
And I just needed the reminder that God is in charge of my time and my days, and I am just where He wants me to be.
I wonder how many times our lives intersect in those exquisitely perfect ways, yet we are completely unaware. I know we can’t always see it, but I’m willing to bet that it is far more often than we realize.
I don’t think the spiritual realm and earthly realm are two separate worlds like the marvel universes where they only happen to intersect in little random holes.
The spiritual realm is really woven in with what we see physically here on earth.
So with that in mind, I turned around and went to Walmart to use the time between 8:16 and 9am. I needed to go buy a stapler and a few other things anyway.
Just for funsies, here are some pictures of my new classroom. I’ve made a bit more progress than these pictures show, but after crying yesterday, I forgot to take more pictures, and just went home. You understand, I’m sure.
Special thanks to SEVERAL coworkers who gave of their time to help me brainstorm, put things on walls, laminate, etc.