I know myself enough by now to recognise when I’m starting to spiral, when I’ve given so much of myself to sorting out everyone else’s problems that I’m practically an empty tank, still going for miles and miles but running mostly on fumes and a stubborn determination to not let the world get the best of me.
But sometimes it does.
And there’s no shame in it. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re not able to solve all of the world’s problems because a) you’re not supposed to and b) its probably healthier to admit defeat than to burn out completely.
Look, I get it. Life is hard. We do what we need to do to survive, and sometimes its harder for those of us who have chosen positions of leadership or power because it comes with an obligation to find solutions. And also, somehow that minute difference in pay grades puts a target on your back, and people think they have the right to come at you for every single thing.
You work 37.5 hours a day with this delusional mindset of world-saving that sometimes you forget that you are more than your job. You are not this stiff-upper-lip, uber-serious, managerial person who goes around with to-do-lists and QR codes and who spends what feels like their entire existence either looking at or analysing spreadsheets.
You’re also a reader, a writer, a dreamer, a hopeless romantic who cries over love stories, someone who doesn’t know East from West when trying to sort out directions on Google maps, and you’re someone who, even at 35, doesn’t quite have their shit together and probably never will. You will always be a bit of a mess.
I needed today to feel human again.
To feel like myself again. To not feel hopeless, like you’re only putting out fires long enough to get to the next safe space, so you can have at least 30 minutes of respite and breathing room, before the flames once again start battering through those fire doors.
There are days when I find it a little difficult just to find space to breathe.
There are days when I feel like I’m going through the motions, when I start feeling worn down by the sheer number of things I can’t fix, so I resign myself to just getting through the day, and its not really fulfilling. I don’t really feel like I’m making a difference. Sometimes I think by trying to make things better for someone, I end up making things worse for someone else.
I think this was the feeling that made me reach out to my old alma mater, practically begging for an opportunity to teach undergraduate nurses again even if I have to do it for free.
At the time, I was barely coping. I was seeing a therapist maybe twice a week for anxiety and excessive worry and I found myself writing and deleting a resignation letter every five minutes. I think working out with F45 was the only thing that got me through the day and even that wasn’t enough.
I needed the distraction, but more than that, I needed to remember what it felt like to make an impact, to make a difference.
Thankfully the Philippines will always be in need of nurses and Clinical Instructors, so with slight trepidation I agreed to take on a full Medical-Surgical Nursing course load.
For the past 5 weeks I’ve been using what little spare time I have in between a full time job and my extra curricular activities making notes and PowerPoint presentations and pre-recording lectures. I’ve been getting up at 3:30 am to have interactive sessions to discuss case studies, making questions for pre-tests and post-tests and long exams, answering multiple queries from students an entire continent away….and I’ve never felt happier.
I’ve forgotten how natural a fit being a teacher is for me, how at ease I am doing it, how much joy I derive from watching that light bulb moment reflected in another person’s eyes.
We find so few pockets of joy these days that I think we should hold on to the things that give us the same feeling as we did when we first discovered the taste of chocolate ice cream, or when we first heard our favourite song, or took our first steps in the city of our dreams.
I’ve forgotten how good it is to feel like you still have the rest of your life ahead of you, that you can still do some good, rather than feel like you’re failing all of the time.
So than you, Velez College, for the gift of my education, and for being my refuge against hopelessness, even after all these years.