Teacher

Whew, August was quite the month, so much so that I started this post four days before it ended and here I am finally hitting publish already over halfway into September.

It feels like I have been constantly moving the past few weeks, and (surprisingly) I’ve liked it. I slowed down quite a bit at the start of this year because I wasn’t feeling in control of my life, I felt like I was stuck in bad patterns that I didn’t have the time and energy to get out of. I took the spring semester off, more or less because I just couldn’t bring myself to register for classes. I think, subliminally, I felt very defeated that many of my former classmates were going to be graduating in May and I knew I still had a ways to go, and all the roadblocks of the previous four years resurfaced as doubt and despair. I had gotten too stuck on shortcomings and failures and had forgotten to tally all the small victories and successes, which were equally numerous. I let myself take the time to tear down those bad patterns and build them back up with good replacements, and while I kept trying to absorb all the motivational and self-help type information along the way, I also realized that I already had everything I needed to know to fix my patterns. I just needed a long, hard reset that ended in an honestly rather sudden return of motivation one day at the beginning of last month.

While I took a semester off of school, I definitely didn’t take a break from learning, in fact, I scaled up the learning in my time off. I still had yoga teacher training to fill my weeks and occasional weekends, and I was listening to all the podcasts on motivation, good habits, success stories, etc. in the meantime. I’m simultaneously curious about and terrified of how many hours I spent listening to podcasts/youtube videos this year…it’s probably a very high number. I certainly learned a lot and overall just love listening to others’ stories, experiences and perspectives, but I think the most important thing I learned is that while I needed the rest and reset, I didn’t need to learn some magic “how to be motivated/productive” key. I just needed to decide to start taking charge of my life.

I literally paused a podcast a quarter of the way through earlier this summer and started scheduling a meeting with my advisor for the next day, preparing to register for classes and just overall began resuming being an adult. The podcast I was listening to wasn’t even some life-changing advice, it was just some casual banter about what the hosts were doing that day or something, but it made me realize that I had basically let my willpower atrophy until simple responsibilities felt overwhelming. It probably has a lot to do with anxiety, but I guess I was sort of raised to not frame every problem I have in terms of mental health issues, for better or for worse. So, I decided right then and there that I was tired of feeling like a timid kid and that I wanted to start doing little things every day to build back up my “responsibility willpower” and feel more like a functioning independent person. And here I am a month or two later, 16 credit hours, staying on top of all my assignments, the most consistent sleep schedule I’ve had in years, and also with two new titles that include the word “teacher.”

I think you’ve probably gleaned the fact that I love learning by now, but I never really saw myself as a teacher. I’m a generally reserved, introverted person and it takes a lot of mental energy for me to be in a place of leadership over a group. I signed up for yoga teacher training a year ago because I wanted to learn, not because I necessarily wanted to teach. I’m very happy to say a year later that I made it through the training, led a 1.5-hour Ashtanga class, created and taught my very own class, and passed a 15 page test (that took me three hours) on my first try. It wasn’t easy at any point, but I’m so happy I did it, and I’m even a bit less intimidated by the teaching aspect with some experience under my belt. However, I’m still in it primarily for the learning, and if I’m being honest, I think any good teacher is a teacher that wants to learn from teaching and teach to learn.

So, shortly before taking my YTT test, I was also asked if I could teach the Pre-K Sunday School at my church this school year. I only have a handful of students, but saying yes to that was still a big deal to me. I love kids and think they’re the sweetest souls that deserve the absolute best, so I’m always a bit intimidated by interacting with them because I want them to feel understood, and sometimes young kids still learning to communicate are hard to understand when you’re not their parent, plus I don’t have that large, fun, extroverted energy that kids often respond more easily to. The reason that I want to be a children’s book author is because I can give special stories and images and lessons to children without directly speaking to them, haha. But anyway, I said yes, and the first two classes have gone well. I just have to keep them occupied for 15 or 20 minutes, so nothing terribly difficult, but I definitely give all the props to teachers because it takes time to prepare the simplest activities. I’m going to have to work on some batch planning so I can save myself some time in the future. It’s both exciting and intimidating that I will be working with these kids every Sunday until the end of next Spring…

So while I have the right to call myself a “teacher” in more ways than one at the moment, I still prefer to just consider myself a lifelong learner. That was such a long thought dump, but I wanted to update on my past month because it’s been a lot of new challenges and overall I’m pretty proud of myself for handling it all as well as I have managed to so far in a sustainable way. It just takes a couple months of having a pretty open schedule to make you realize that life isn’t fulfilling long-term without things to do and challenges to overcome. Do you consider yourself a teacher, a learner, or both? I think we’re all both to some degree.

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