It’s kind of amazing how making one decision can lead to so many unexpected interactions with people that are otherwise just co-workers that pass by in the hallways. I’ve never really stopped to think about how the people I work with view me because I’ve never been one to ponder over others’ opinion of me. After a lifetime of either being bullied, made fun of, or just always being the “weird one” in a group, it just becomes a necessity of survival (and sanity) to do my own thing and not worry about the rest.
However, there are moments when what someone thinks means everything. Especially, when they take to the time to pull you aside and say something positive … to your face. Back in October 2019, I put in my resignation for the administrative part of my job. I agreed to stay on to the end of the school year to finish out my contract, but for the next school year I will return full-time to the classroom.
For the longest time I felt like an utter and complete failure because no matter how hard I worked I just couldn’t do the job the way I felt it needed to be done. On top of that, it was so distracting, I felt like my teaching suffered as well, which impacted my students (the very thing I care about the most). There wasn’t enough time in the day, not enough coffee in the world to keep me energized, and not enough support from anywhere on campus. I was alone, exhausted, and overwhelmed. The final nail in the coffin came after doing some digging for information for an evaluation process. I found out the job I was doing by myself was done by three separate people five years ago. The positions were reduced to a half-day position due to budget cuts. No wonder I felt totally overwhelmed – I’m doing the job of three people, plus teaching.
The fact that I had resigned wasn’t announced publicly until recently and it turns out it was a pretty well-kept secret as it caught most everyone by surprise. People I’ve worked with for years have pulled me aside and said things to me I never would have imagined was going through their heads. I’m an oddball on campus, always have been (proudly so), so it never occurred to me that they would see me as anything other than that.
They think that I’m an amazing teacher that is incredibly skilled in what I do. That I’m always so energetic, positive and smiling. That I’m refreshing and always make people laugh. That my students talk about me all the time because they love my class and that I’m always “bouncing off the walls.” That I’m smart, organized, strong, determined, honest (okay, blunt), and clever. That I’m one of the best and they don’t like to see me burned out. That they believed in what I was trying to do for the program I ran. That I deserve better.
I had no idea and this is all overwhelming in a completely different way. I needed this. I can’t tell you all how much I needed to hear all of this.
Today, however, someone told me something that I’m still trying to process. The administrative team has approached several people on campus about taking my old position next year. They’ve all said no and gave the reason, “if she can’t do it, then no one can.” It’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever received and it just blows me away. I didn’t know I was surrounded by colleagues who felt this way about my abilities. What can I even say to that, except thank you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for letting me be the oddball and having my back.
There are still three and a half months left in the school year and it will be a struggle to get through them. I am still doing the job of three people, still burned out, and still fighting to make it through each day. But, I feel a little stronger knowing there are people who see how hard I work and took the time to say something nice to me.