I haven’t written on here in a while. That’s been on purpose. To be honest, I’ve been struggling. Not instruction-wise or evaluation-wise; more on that later. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and self-esteem issues. I’ve been struggling to believe I am actually good at this. And despite the fact that I’m on track to skip a year of the scale teachers are graded on at my school, at my core, I do not believe I’m a good teacher.
My full observation (when I am videotape/heavily evaluated) is this Thursday. For about three and a half weeks now, I’ve been having full-blown panic attacks. Like…waking up at 1:30 AM in a cold sweat, heart racing, completely panicked about I-don’t-even-know-what. Or being unable to take a deep breath at school. Or going out to my car to cry during my planning period except that crying doesn’t make it any better.
I’ve been in a rut and I don’t know how to get out.
On paper, it should look like I’m doing just fine. My evaluations are strong. My students’ test scores are right on par with the district average. I’ve been able to have somewhat of a life outside of school. But on the inside, I feel like an impostor. A giant fraud. A Wizard-of-Oz girl just waiting for the curtain to be pulled back, exposing my fake competence as the incompetence as it is. I am completely 100% aware that these feelings are extraordinarily irrational. And highly self-centered. I hate that. But you feel what you feel, and though I wish I could feel anything but this, I suppose this is where I’m at right now.
It’s been getting in the way. I feel nauseous when I sit down to lesson plan at night, so my poetry unit’s been rough. I feel sick at the idea of really looking at my student data and so I haven’t been as purposeful as I could be. I’m trying to become okay with not being perfect but for some reason it’s just difficult. And it’s strange, because I was never a perfectionist in college; I was never one of those people who neurotically obsessed over GPA or a test curve or landing the perfect extracurriculars. I actually kind of looked down on those people. and now, weirdly enough, I feel like I’m becoming one of them.
Wikipedia says the anxiety I feel comes from the fear of not living up to what other people think I am. I’m subconsciously worried that my true “not a good teacher” insides will be revealed to outsiders. This, as twisted and bizarre as it sounds, is exactly what I feel. I am quick to chalk up my strong evaluations to luck or timing or the stars aligning or whatever. I am quick to judge myself harshly. I am quick to be convinced that, with every chance of a new evaluation, comes a new chance to be revealed as a fake.
I know I sound so annoying right now. I apologize for that. I’m sharing this in the hopes that if any of you out there – particularly women, who this phenomenon appears to most affect – are experiencing this, it is real, it is a thing, it is something I have dealt with too. I think it is exacerbated by the high-pressure no-excuses never-good-enough churn-and-burn situation I’m in right now, but it was always there all along, and now is when I’m forced to deal with it.
It is absolutely exhausting to live so far inside your own head. I wouldn’t recommend it. In trying to get myself out of this weird headspace I’m trying to purposely be social, to purposely help others, to purposely get myself to just stop thinking about myself. I am extraordinarily lucky to have an incredible cohort of friends both at school and outside of school. I have an amazing roommate who supports me in immeasurable ways. I have an instructional coach and an MTLD who show their love for me with words and in actions. And I have a rich inner life that reminds me even if I’m awful on an evaluation…at least I’m a good person, at least I care about the world, at least I try to do the right thing and leave the world a little more beautiful than I found it.
And that’s a start.