Woulda Been: “Chris Is Concerned,” But That Theme’s Played Out
Thanks for the discussion this weekend. I’ve gotta acknowledge straight off how grateful I am and how cool it’s been that a bunch of vets would take the time to wander by and register their concern for my stress level and blood pressure.
Some highlights for me:
Jonathan‘s comment that the more I invest in lessons this year, the harder they’ll be to scrap next year even when experience demands a fresher approach. That’s a new (and consequently invaluable) lesson. I’ll try to stay vigilant but, frankly, if I scrapped half the lessons I made this year (a broad estimate) even that 50% savings would make next year downright lazy.
Jen‘s point that a blogger’s job-hating, stressed-out post quantity oughtta correlate pretty neatly with his actual job-hate and stress, a metric that feels intuitively right to me and by which I seem to be doing fine.
Chris‘ concern for my relationship with my yet-to-be-born-or-conceived kid, concern which reflects kinda sweetly on his relationship with his own boys.
The only lowlight has been the ambiguous and self-fulfilling, though obviously well-intentioned, anti-burnout advice offered. Maxims like “avoid burnout,” “be careful,” “heed the advice you’ve been given,” “listen seriously to their concerns,” and “scale back,” are awfully difficult prescriptions to fill and sometimes only true in hindsight.
Like, is an hour less planning per day enough? How far should I scale back? How does one anticipate burnout? I realize that you’ve all been through it and that the harbingers all seem intuitively obvious to you now, but, I mean, isn’t one of our job’s primary mandates to make clear what’s been intuitively obvious to us for years? As is, you guys put yourselves in a position to cluck balefully over my charred corpse (“We tried to warn him …. “) without offering but a few thimblefuls of practical precursors.
If we flopped positions, I’d ask:
- Are you taking care of your health?
- Are you keeping up with your friends and family?
- If you’ve got a spiritual side to your life, are you keeping that up?
- Are you enjoying yourself?
So, to put a period or maybe an ellipsis on this extremely challenging year, I’ve eaten well, slept enough, exercised regularly (ignore the skinny kid in all the photos, please), enjoyed a fun relationship with my girlfriend, dealt with a family crisis, and, finally, my primary reassurance to anyone who equates sixty-hour weeks with burnout, enjoyed my happiest, most satisfying year teaching so far.
But I don’t know. Maybe you all could’ve said the same before you crashed. Maybe you all woke up daily pondering ways to make this or that better, clearer, and more satisfying than the last time they learned it, scribbled notes to yourself while driving, and found every last stupid t.v. show you watched an occasion to improve your practice. Maybe you were likewise obsessed, likewise happy, and still went a little crazy somewhere down the line. If that’s the case then I reckon it’s just a countdown ’til I’m hosed.
I’m just not sure it’s in me to turn this off, though, even if I wanted to. I’ve done things without really understanding why. I taught myself calculus over winter break one year, burned through an undergraduate degree over the next three, and during my student teaching year, broke a Guinness World Record, which all probably sounds egotistical if you’re out looking for egotism. But working hard is hardwired to my identity. It’s what makes me happy. It’s how I justify two working lungs and a brain. Flirting with burnout as I have and do isn’t a lifestyle I would ever recommend, but it seems to be the only way I know how to live.