Hi. My name is Tammy. I used to be workaholic.
I’m not anymore and I suspect that annoys some people. Since I’m a teacher, I’m often expected to do things that have nothing to do with teaching and a lot to do with bureaucratic reports – lots and lots of paperwork. Or I’m expected to spend 50-70 hours a week getting everything done even though we are only paid for 35 hours. Sadly, most of what is expected distracts from effective instruction. We are not provided the time or support we need to do what needs to be done. Spouses of teachers can attest to this.
When I say “no, I can’t do that” or “no, I don’t have time”, I usually get the “P” word thrown at me.
P R O F E S S I O N A L
Usually, it’s an attempt to guilt me into being compliant. I used to hear it from a female colleague who didn’t like how I dressed because my clothes didn’t fit anymore. (What she really didn’t like was that I lost weight.) I’ve even had it tossed at me at part-time jobs because my full time career made me unavailable to work more hours. (“If I were a serious fitness professional…”)
So being a “serious fitness professional” is something that will have to wait until I retire, I guess. I could be a “not-so-serious fitness amateur” in the meantime.
There are other words that are so much more important to me…
What I’m NOT is this…
Back in 2009, the decision to take care of myself was hard to make. I had a lot of guilt about how it was going inconvenience my husband and impact my teaching. I knew I would have to quit being the “go to” person at work. But it turns out that I’m a better wife and teacher because I’m taking care of myself. Not just better because I’m going to live longer, but really BETTER. I’m more patient. I’m more creative. I’m more effective as an instructor because of those things. And I won’t let myself become burnt out. But it did negatively impact my ability to internalize the guilt trip about being “professional”. I just don’t have time to waste.
Every day for the last year, I’ve parked my car at school next to a memorial for a colleague who was just a few years older than me. She was a wonderful woman, loved by many in our community, but died too soon. Stroke. She spoke with me a couple of times about changing things, but told me she was just too busy. She put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own health. She had a huge memorial service in our gym and now has a lovely stone memorial on our football field next to a faculty parking lot. Every morning when I arrive and every afternoon when I leave, I look at it. I’m reminded that this job can kill you. I wonder if the bosses had to park next to that memorial every day, would they internalize what it means? I wonder if my colleagues who drive past it every day like I do feel the same way I do?
I still need to remind myself that I don’t care about what people think about how I live my life so that I can have more energy to just LIVE it. I wrote this for anyone who needs to borrow a little perspective and courage.
Can you relate?