Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stop doing things that don't make you feel better, and start doing things that make you feel good.

This ^ Very much this.

I recently had a conversion with one of my students. He has a severe medical condition, that I won't pretend to understand, which screws up his hormones and makes him chemically very prone to extreme anger. He had had a really bad falling out with friends and was telling me about how he feels like he has no coping skills.

For the first time, I told a student about my struggles with anxiety. Actually, this is probably the first time I'm telling the internet about my struggles with anxiety. That day it was timely because I had experience the first panic attack in over a year: it was so sever that I had to pull my car off the side of the road and sit in a gas station parking lot for about 10 minutes.

This used to be so common place I didn't every realize there was something wrong with me. This used to be the way I lived my life. But, at some point, I saw a doctor, and a therapist, and started meditating, and stopped believing that I was hopelessly inadequate (a.k.a. I let go of my Christian upbringing and because a Buddhist), and realized that there was more to life than living minute to minute doing anything that I could to not feel worse.

I completely understand how people turn to drugs and alcohol. If I hadn't had my teaching career planned out since I was 17 I might have too.

So, I was telling my student about this, and a few specific stories to emphasize the fact that I understand that when your body doesn't chemically work right that you feel powerless, and I came to this thesis:

Stop doing things that don't make you feel better, and start doing things that make you feel good. 

For me, the things that didn't make me feel better were staying up late and not getting enough sleep for work. Blowing off class. Cheating on someone who loved me very much (ohh...another internet first confession). I'm honestly surprised I made it past 23 sometimes.

Once I decided that I was tired of doing things that just made me not feel worse, I had to start the hard task of figuring out what actually makes me feel good.

Some of these things are:
1) Being open and real with my friends instead of having to put on a veil of perfection
2) Getting rid of people who only brought negative energy to the table
3) Running...Sorta. Actually, I hate running. I LOVE going to Fitworks and doing 3-5 miles on the elliptical while watching a movie)
4) Dating people who make me happy rather than people who would just make a good husband someday
5) Being a vegetarian
6) Meditating, and studying Buddhism, and being upfront about this with my students when I work at a Catholic High School. (They call me the soulless closet ginger...that's their cute way of saying I don't believe in heaven. I promise, its cute and fun and not demeaning).
7) Working. A lot. And not being a stay at home mom.
8) Letting Odin eat a happy meal once a week so I don't have to cook or clean the kitchen
9) Cooking good, healthy food for myself and for my baby
10) Making solid financial decisions, a.k.a. not falling into the "Went into Target, came out with a $112 Keurig" trap.

This past summer was really rough for me. It was the lack of work (teacher summer off, not unemployed) that just kept me inside my head. I realized that there were a lot of things that I needed to sort out, and it was scary and stressful and hard. But, I come to some pretty big conclusions about myself that have made me a much more authentic version of myself as well as made me much happier.

But, for some reason, when I started this school year in August I lost sight of most of the progress I had made in terms of identifying what made me feel like me, and, therefore, what made me happy.

Something happened today that brought this into focus for me. I won't go into it, because the specifics are irrelevant. The important thing is that I need to get back to the things that make me happy.

So, I canceled my OKC profile and canceled both of my first dates for this weekend. I found a doctoral program I have to apply for asap because I already have two leads about assistantships. I'm going to tell my current pretend teaching position that I am officially not coming back next year (though I may still try and coach). I'm going to spend more time with Sarah, and work really hard at adjusting to the new person she is. I'm going to to sort out some personal relationships that have been allowed to run away with themselves. And I'm going to do all those things above that I know make me happier than blowing off homework or ignoring my messy house to watch all of Firefly and Serenity in a weekend. And I'm going to do my homework on time.

I need to keep that 4.0 if I want to get into the program I want with the assistantship.

In the next few years you will be calling me Dr. Potter.