I feel like I’ve been in life free-fall all summer. I didn’t begin the summer intending to quit teaching, change jobs, and move 1000 miles away, but that’s what I did, and it still catches me off-guard sometimes.
It’s amazing how rooted your brain can become in patterns of behavior. I keep having these momentary lapses of memory, especially when I travel. I’ll wake up in a strange hotel room and my brain will begin searching for the “teaching tasks” I have to do (paper grading, class prep, test writing), and then all of a sudden I will have this realization that I have a new job, live in a new state, and am no longer teaching classes. It’s a strange mental shift every time it happens. It leaves me with this uneasy pit in my stomach. I left a pretty safe predictable job for one with a much higher degree of uncertainty, where I’m still feeling out my job duties and I rarely know what to expect to be assigned next. I suspect this feeling of uncertainty will pass with time, but for now, it’s a strange way to wake up in the morning.
I always worried that I would miss teaching if I left, but so far that hasn’t happened. Perhaps it’s because my job keeps me pretty busy. Like teaching, there is an endless list of things I could be accomplishing, so I’m never bored.
I’ve been trying to understand work-life balance as it pertains to my new position. As an educator, there was no work-life balance during the semester. If you weren’t teaching, you were either planning to teach, grading papers, or doing a post-mortem on something you taught and trying to figure out how to make it better the next time around. I worked from the moment I woke up till the time I dropped into bed exhausted, 7 days a week, week after week.
There seems to be a little space for the possibility of a life outside of work now that I’m not teaching. Email slows to a trickle (if any) on the weekend. There’s a definite lull in work activity after 6pm every day as people go home to their families and spend time with them. This has been the strangest thing to get used to. Students communicated indiscriminately throughout the week – no time was sacred and responses were always expected and expected quickly. How strange it is to turn off email on a Saturday and not worry about an angry student escalating their problem to an administrator while you enjoy a day off.