I supposed it’s normal to be nervous heading into any sort of experience, much less one as intense and all-encompassing as Institute. Knowing that “this is normal” – while a little bit comforting – doesn’t provide me with much solace in my moments of panic. Now that Institute is almost here I find myself more and more at the mercy of these moments. They catch me in my tracks and fill me with worry.
TFA-Houston sent us a really helpful and informative email today containing excerpts from TeacherPop, a TFA blog that’s a little bit more official and less anonymous than the TeachForUs blog network. I ended up browsing through TeacherPop for much of today just to see peoples’ impressions of Institute, advice, etc. On one hand it was nice to know that the more I know in advance, the more I can mentally prepare myself and not be caught off-guard. On the other hand, it just made my worries even more concrete, even more literal.
It’s easy for anyone who’s been through Institute already to look back and say, “Oh, it wasn’t that hard, I mean I was sleep-deprived and things were kind of intense but it’s nothing like actually teaching on your own.” Which I’ve heard from so, so many people. I know this advice is only given with the best of intentions…but somehow it’s not that comforting.
I worry about the big stuff. Will I be happy. Will I be a mess. Will I learn anything about teaching. Will I make friends. And about the little stuff too…what happens if I get sick? What if I get sick of being around people all day every day? What if everyone else has friends and I don’t? What if the clothes I brought aren’t Institute-appropriate? What if I feel adrift on the weekend? What if my Houston friends expect me to hang out with them and I don’t have the energy to?
The what-ifs can go on forever and I have to intentionally force myself to just stop. This sort of worrying is incredibly unproductive. I won’t change my future behavior at all based on my current worries, so why bother?
I know that someday I’ll look back and laugh at how irrationally worried I was. But right now the huge unknown, the anticipation of such a life-changing six weeks seems…hulking and inescapable.