Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding My Feet...and Pondering What I Really Want

Every semester, especially in the fall, I struggle to find my feet as the semester begins.  I worry over classes and scramble to find the right pace for them. I rush to catch trains and mourn the loss of my morning walk (I get it in some days, but not often).  I collapse at the end of the day.  This year, I have added administrative responsibilities that have me running from one meeting to the next. Know what I'm really, really not good at?  That's right: running around from one thing to another without a coherent connection between my duties, and especially if doing so offers me no time to hide away and decompress in my office for a while.  

I worry if I don't say enough in meetings.  I worry if I say too much. I feel overwhelmed by the juggle of classes, meetings, train, home, LIFE. I watch as my plans to continue research and writing into the school year quickly turn to dust because other tasks demand my time and attention. 

I wonder, every year--heck, every semester--if I shouldn't throw in the towel and admit that I'm just not cut out for a job that has me wearing so many hats at once, and that has me to deal with large numbers of people  (Did  I mention that I'm an introvert?)

And then, sometime around week 3 (sometime right around now), I begin to find my feet.  I revel in opening worlds of thought and history to my students, and remember why I teach.  I come away from a meeting energized with ideas and determination to follow through on them.  I realize how much I missed my fellow train folk. I remember to cherish the depth of community that I have found at my university.  I encourage a younger faculty member and think back to how others' support helped me to thrive as a scholar, despite having a 4/4 course load.  I figure out getting a real walk into a late afternoon or evening.  I spend an evening baking fall foods rather than prepping for the next class or meeting, and for a brief moment I get off the hamster wheel and breathe.  

Life gains perspective again.  At least, until the grading hits full force, and at least by then I am used to the pace of the semester. And by then, New England fall will be in all  its glory--bringing all the weather and colors and foods and smells and coziness that I love and thrive on.  

And when all is said and done, I will survive the semester.  

Every year the same process--always familiar, always different than the year before.  Every year I wonder if I really can keep doing this job, and every year I come back for more.  For the past few years, I've thought about leaving full-time work.  I agonize over when and how to do that. I can feel something slower call to me.  

But apparently it's not time yet. For now, I will keep finding my feet and trying to remember why I love this work so much, even though it's hard for an introvert like me to handle it all. 

May as well make happy where I am, right?


  1. Define introvert? I don't see you that way. And, for the record, you are always happy! It is a good place for all of us. I need to practice being positive. and happy....

  2. So eloquently said. I think everyone can find themselves in your shoes, and one thing that helps me is to dial things back and slow down. Write down your goals and perhaps a routine to achieve them rather than feeling off balance. One thing that sure helps me is the routine and discipline of my early walk. Everything seems better when I make that time to walk. To find peace and to care for me. I too adore the Autumn and all that it brings with, cozy fires, root and bones appear in my kitchen and stews, and glorious candle lit dinners sharing stories remind me to give Thanks, right where I am now. Live in the moment. Embrace the present as you say and make happy where you are. xo