What am I supposed to learn from this?

It has been a strange few months for me.

I went from working like crazy last spring to a little work here and there… and then now there has been almost nothing since mid-December. I really didn’t realize how much having part-time availability on set days would impact my job. It was never an issue before, but since changes were made to the way calls are assigned, it has definitely been an added challenge.

Exams and the current job action hasn’t exactly helped either.

I’m trying not to stress about it, but it’s hard. I don’t think I realized how much of my self-worth I had wrapped up in my career. I know it’s a slow time of year and I shouldn’t take things personally… but not getting calls to work has left me with a lot of time to think. I think I’m a good teacher. Not the best, but I love my job and the kids that I teach. I love the hustle and bustle of high school. I love the energy and non-stop laughter with my colleagues. I love that I get to use my brain and I am learning as much as I teach.

Mostly, I am trying to get over my pride and accept that I’m not any secretary’s go-to teacher anymore. And that’s okay. I had a good run, and there are just too many other great teachers out there now… and that’s a good thing.

So I’m trying to take a step back and look at this a different way. The question that keeps coming to my mind is: What am I supposed to learn from this?

When I left work last June I was a bit of a shell. I had mastered how to plaster a smile on my face, keep my chin up and get the work done. In truth, I was a hot mess after my miscarriage and losing Elise so quickly after. I knew deep down that I needed to step back. I needed time.

…I just didn’t really expect this much time.

I’m really grateful that M has a good job and we learned how to live on one income while I was on my extended maternity leave. It’s definitely easier with two, but we aren’t struggling.

It’s more to do with the fact that I have P in daycare three days a week whether I work or not. I set aside those days as “work days”… so I feel like I should be working when he’s not here. I want to be working on those days. Instead I’ve found myself alone for extended periods for the first time in… years. Honestly. I haven’t had this much time to myself in almost eight years.

And it’s like I’m relearning how to be on my own.

So, what am I supposed to learn from this? Why is this happening? What am I supposed to take away from this unexpected time on my own?

You know I’ve jokingly talked a little bit about about “the universe” guiding me here or there, or placing things, people or opportunities on my path. Now, I feel like the universe is trying to tell me I still have some growing to do. I’ve spent most of the last eight years caring for and looking after other people.

Maybe I’ve been given this time to relearn how to look after myself. For the first time in a long time I’ve had time to just sit in solitude and let my mind wander. To think deeply about things. To not feel like my brain is an internet browser with too many tabs open and pop-ups flying all over. It made me remember that I used to love finding a quiet place to think. To reflect. To just… be.

I’ve started running again. I’m eating better than I have in ages. Who knew it was so much easier to eat well when you actually have time to prepare good food?

I’m writing more often. I’ve learned that it’s not only something I love, but something I need. It’s my therapy. It’s how I process big feelings. It’s how I de-stress.

I’m learning how to do things around the house that I normally would have just relied on M to do for me. I’m patching walls, painting, sanding and caulking. It feels good to be more involved with the care of our home aside from regular cleaning.

I think I’m learning a little humility. Not getting calls to work has really taken me down a peg. When I decided to supply again I think I was really cocky about it. I have 10 years of experience and two specialists! Of course I’ll get all the calls, right? I went in with an attitude of being selective of where I wanted to work… instead of just being grateful for the work I was being offered. I forgot what it was like to struggle for jobs. I forgot that there are hundreds of other teachers who are also struggling for jobs who are just as good at this job as I am. I don’t say that to minimize what I do, but rather to recognize that there are also a lot of other really qualified and excellent teachers out there. And I can’t expect to come ahead of them.

I’m learning that I don’t have to define myself by my career. When someone new asks me something about myself, I almost always default to telling them that I’m a teacher. I’m proud of it! I worked hard to be here.

…but it’s not the only thing I’m proud of. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize those other things, but maybe that’s why the universe is shoving this time down my throat. I can be grateful for it, even if it’s not what I necessarily wanted.

So, here I am. Learning. Not fully understanding why this year has been the way it has, but still trying to just take it one day at a time.

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