Recently some of my friends have had to do some reflecting on their lives and priorities. How much of personal resources can be used to hobbies, such as being active in various societies, how can one guarantee that there is enough quality time with spouse / family, what kind of requirements does work set, how to manage with limited income and so on. The serious, real life stuff, you know.
These reflections are necessary in life every once and a while, if not for anything else, then for the simple reason that it's not possible to reflect without standing still for a moment. And stillness is a rare luxury in today's world. People dash around looking busy, feeling stressed out and probably achieving less than they could, because they have too many things they're trying to do at one time.
I think I'm very much in the middle of a situation like that. Granted, I don't have a family (meaning a husband and kids of my own) to worry about, but I definitely recognise the feeling of (false) inadequacy, which is the result of having too much to do almost at any given moment. False inadequacy, because I know these things aren't in any way impossible for me to do. But seems they are impossible to do simultaneously, eh. Like reading thesis related books, exam books and planning upcoming lessons at the same time. There's the tiny little limit of not having three sets of eyes, hands and brains to deal with everything at once.
Sure, these are just questions of organising one's time a little better. In this case it may mean I'll skip the exam, because I just haven't had time to study for it (I very nearly broke down in frustrated tears today, trying to understand the damnable economics stuff) and concentrate on doing lesson plans. And since school starts next Monday, the thesis stuff will be limited mostly to weekends from now on, anyway. So, in theory, problem solved - only that if I skip the exam, I'm probably moving the date of my graduation once again further down into the future. Argh. (But if I do go to the exam not having read enough, I won't pass anyway and I end up in the same situation after having "wasted" several hours to trying to scramble through the materials, whereas I could've used the hours for working on the lessons... Sheesh.)
And school then, oh my. It's really quite ridiculous that I'm getting nervous about it again. I should know by now that it's work I'm fully capable of doing (and I'm not too bad at it, either - if I may say so myself), and yet the feelings of doubt and insecurity are back. I wonder how many years of teaching will it take to get rid of this...
I suppose it'll get easier when I've taught all the courses through at least once. Now I have 8th grade history and 9th grade social studies that are completely new to me. I've taught bits and pieces of them, but never the full year. And even the start of the 7th grade history is foreign territory to me, since I didn't teach it last year. In other words, come next Tuesday I'll have three completely new courses beginning, which means quite a lot of work in the evenings for me. Yikes.
Ok, so if I now had to list my current priorities in life, the list could be made very short and simple. (It could also be made a long, rambling list of many things, but I'll keep it simple for now.)
1. Graduating asap, no excuses
2. Doing my best at work, trying to motivate the students and be a good teacher (preferably without sky high stress levels, or 14 hour work days, pretty please?)
3. Maintaining meaningful friendships, because friends keep me sane (and since I don't have a boyfriend to spend quality time with, my friends are my quality time)
4. Family (I have to make time for grandma&grandpa, since grandpa is not going to be around for long anymore)
5. Hobbies (dividing time between rehearsing for one more dance recital to be held in October, editing a fanzine and so on...).
In other words, at this moment my work and my research go before everything. I expect I'll have to seriously cut down my responsibilities elsewhere. For example I'm pretty sure I won't be editing Spin next year anymore. I just don't have the time, sorry to say it.
And that's one heck of an important lesson to learn. To learn to recognise the limits of one's resources. I know I'm having a hard time with it, and some of my friends struggle (or have struggled) with similar problems. The core of the problem is (at least for me) that it's fun to participate and be active, but if there aren't enough people who share that attitude, the workload soon becomes too heavy to handle.
But on the other hand, a simple, stressless life would be awfully boring, right?
After all this seriousness, I'm off to watch Gerard Butler as Attila the Hunn. Heh. That'll keep my thoughts off anything too serious for a while.