It seems as though I've always had trouble with balance in my life, starting at a young age. Although I've gotten much better at being less of a perfectionist, doing things perfectly in all aspects of my life have consumed much of my time. I can remember in high school working on a portfolio that every senior had to complete before graduation. We had to meet so many goals, and out of those goals so many objectives. Most seniors procrastinated and tried to complete it all the week before it was due. However, not me. I was working on that portfolio throughout the fall and over winter break. I read and re-read each piece of evidence I chose and each reflection I wrote for each objective. I don't even want to know how many hours I devoted to this project.
Ever since entering the "real world," my life has been busy. During my first two years of teaching I also completed my master's degree in education. Although I am glad I did the volunteer program and am grateful for my experiences, I was glad to see it end. I thought that when I took my current job, my life would allow me to have more time to devote to causes that I chose and deem important.
Last year I took five steps in reverse in finding the balance in my life. I teach all students in my grade English, math, and science. The students are leveled for math class, so I really teach 4 math classes a day, two science classes or English classes...except for one day, when I get to teach both science and English two times, and spelling and a literature class to my homeroom. If you are a teacher, I'm preaching to the choir. If you are not, you probably don't fully understand what this means. I plan 20 math lessons a week, 6 science lessons, 6 English lessons, 2 spelling lessons, and 4 literature lessons for a grand total of 38 lessons. This does not include making tests, grading papers, grading tests, recording homework scores, updating my online grade book for the parents, and everything else that a teacher must do. There are 65 kids in the grade, so that is a lot of papers to read and give feedback on.
In addition to teaching all of the "heavy" subjects, I also am the one who enforces discipline in the grade. Although I try not to let my co-teachers ability to pretend like nothing is happening when the kids are running around the class screaming annoy me, it does. I realize it is hard for the kids to change between a teacher who expects them to do work well, work hard, and behave well and one who runs what is more like a circus in her classroom. It is draining for me to do everything. I don't know how much longer I can..for mental purposes.
In the past month, school has been especially hectic. I've been given/forced more responsibilities. Some of my new tasks I greatly enjoy, but they take my time and energy. I only have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. I cannot allow school work to consume 12 hours of my day every day, although it could. I love teaching, but I do not love it 12 hours a day, five days a week plus additional time on the weekends. My balance scale has been tipped over and needs to be evened out again.
There are many other things that I feel like I am compromising on since my work load is so time-consuming. For example, my friends. Lately, I have not seen them nearly as much. I feel like I'm not getting a chance to fully live my life now. I'm young and want to enjoy my life now while I still have the opportunity to do so. I want to run, volunteer, bike, and learn more things. I want to be able to go out with my friends for a few hours on a weekday night and feel guilty about all of the work I have to do before 7:30 a.m. the next day.
I've decided something has to change. I do not want to keep living this work-filled, friend-deprived life. I've worked on updating my resume and cover letter this week and want to change schools. Who knows if anything will happen, but I'm willing to give it a shot. It is exciting to think about.
Do you have trouble balancing everything in your life, or did you when you were younger?