I lied awake in bed last night, anxiety creeping up my toes, sliding into my heart, and pulsing into my brain.  My chest felt tight, my lungs tickling with nerves.  These nerves, I expected to feel Sunday night; in fact, I expected last night’s restless sleep on Sunday night as I buzzed with anticipation for my new job, but instead, my anxiety seems to have waited until last night to start to take hold.  Then again, I suppose it didn’t help that the newly discovered newborn baby was screaming at the top of her lungs.

I think it began yesterday while I was sitting in a company meeting when I realized–truly realized–for the first time that I was part of a business now, not just a school, and suddenly the “gremlins,” as Brene Brown so beautifully describes in her work, started creeping in.  For those of you that have not read her book(s), when she refers to “gremlins,” she is mostly describing those times when we feel shame or a lack of self-worth.

And so this is what happened yesterday, as I learned about new ways of thinking, truly immersed myself into a new culture, and in a sense, began speaking a new language of teaching, learning, and working.  At the very least, the experience has been humbling; at the very most, I’m sure the experience will be monumental in my development as a teacher and as a person.

(1) I’m grateful for challenge.  Someone once told me, “If you’re not scared, you’re not growing,” and I think there’s a great deal of truth in that.  Granted, too much fear is debilitating, and the last thing I want is to shut down. Luckily, these challenges are being presented by people who are “on my side” and wanting me to succeed, and that’s hard to remember when you’re in a new setting.  When the “gremlins” creep in, it’s easy to think that you’re in this by yourself, but you never really are.  The universe and those around you, for the most part, want you to succeed wholeheartedly.  Investing in others’ success means investing in your own.

(2) I’m grateful that I can listen… a lot. I’ve been kind of quiet the past few days, which is rather atypical for me.  I’m usually the one that can’t wait to get my thoughts in, and many times, in the past, I’ve noticed I’m the one dominating the conversation–a quality in which I never took pride.  I’m finding more value in listening than I ever have before, and not necessarily because of the stimuli in front of me, but more so because I’m learning that by listening, I’m allowing myself time to process, more time for my mind to open, and more time for others to share their knowledge.  That’s something I didn’t do enough for myself–or for others–in Chicago.

(3) I’m grateful for time… time to process and time to myself. I’ve had a great deal of time to myself recently, and I never thought that would be something I would love so much.  Every so often, it hits me that, for all intents and purposes, I’m alone in this big city.  Everyone I know and love with reciprocal lack of condition lives two-thousand miles away, but the time to fend for myself, problem-solve on my own, and invest into myself is incredible.

I’m not sure where it began, but I grew up that thinking that taking care of yourself before taking care of others was selfish.  This challenge that I’ve welcomed, coupled with my time to listen, process, and nurture my psyche, I think, is going to create the best version of myself to date–one that will be able to care for others and understand them more than I have before.  Then again, maybe it’s not the best, or the worst, or any sort of qualitative ranking; maybe it’s just another great version of myself that I can learn to love as much as I do the others.

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