- Connect with who you are outside the classroom by saying no, finding something you love doing, and committing to your relationships.
- Finding YOU outside of the classroom, and discovering your identity as someone other than an educator, can strengthen your mental health and help you feel empowered.
I am a teacher.
Whether in a conversation with new professional connections or communicating with people just outside of my personal circle, when they ask me about me, I tend to lead with just that. I am a teacher.
Yes, I am a teacher. I believe I am a good teacher. But I am not ONLY a teacher.
It took me years into my career to realize that my life was about more than being a teacher. Identifying as my profession in all manners of my life is not the way I want people to get to know me. Maybe that is a weird thought, that I don’t want people to associate me with my life calling. After feeling burned out and stressed about the daily responsibilities of being an educator, I knew that I needed to find out who I was outside of that school building.What I have found is my happy place in life. Because I took all of the previous steps mentioned, I learned what fueled me and what drained me. My days are now focused on things that are going to positively impact my life. Click To Tweet
Finding YOU By Saying No
In addition to my teaching career, I was also coaching high school cheerleading. If anyone has ever had interactions with teenage girls, you feel my pain. Being selected as the varsity coach at the high school I also cheered at was such an exciting honor.
At the exact same time, I was teaching kindergarten.
You read that correctly. I was teaching 5-year-olds while coaching teenage girls.
No worries! I KNOW that I was crazy!
All of the running, working on school things at games, planning practices during plan time at school, lack of sleep, and terrible eating really took a toll on my mental and physical health. During my 4th football season coaching, I realized that I needed to make a change. I informed the athletic director that I would finish out the school year, but I would not be returning in the fall. Immediately, a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I said no to committing to another year of something that was not serving me the way I initially thought it would.
Since then, I have said no to things that either 1) I did not believe would bring me joy or 2) would not serve me well. This first step was the hardest one, but ultimately, it was the most important!
Finding YOU By Doing Something You Love to Do
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a teacher. But that isn’t the only thing I do that I love.
After giving up coaching, something that I enjoyed, I realized how much time I had put back into my schedule every day. More time allowed me to become a better educator, but it also meant I didn’t have an excuse to ignore my physical health anymore.
And so began my love of workouts.
Working out became my new obsession. Not only was it changing my body, but the ability to release my emotions in a healthy way was changing my outlook on who I was as a person. My fitness journey began as just me, alone in my living room, with Beachbody on Demand workouts on my television screen, afraid to let others see me while working out. A year later, I was attending cardio drumming and Pound classes four to five days a week with a room FULL of people. If you had told me that I would EVER enjoy sweating like a pig in front of others, I would have told you that you were insane. And yet, I still continue to do that every single week.
Exercise helped me connect to who I truly am. In the moments where I was so tired and sore and didn’t think I could do another squat or one more rep, I had an honest conversation with myself and pushed through. Eventually, I learned that I was capable of much more than I had ever considered.
Finding YOU By Committing to Your Relationships
I had lost sight of the things that I loved about myself in the monotony of everyday life, and I found them through building my relationships with others. It took sitting down and closely examining the people in my life, and evaluating if that relationship was healthy for me.
You could look at it like thinning out your Facebook friends list. Reconnecting with family and friends helped to build happiness in my life. The more connections that were made, the more I learned about myself. All of a sudden, it was clear that some people in my life were bringing me down, and that I had been bringing others down without even realizing it.
I try to be someone who lifts others up. Trust me, I fail at this almost every day. But I still try.
Finding YOU: Putting Together the Pieces
Start saying no? Check.
Find something I love to do? Check.
Commit to relationships? Check.
Good question. I had no idea what to do with all of the information I had learned about myself. Honestly, I am not 100% sure that I have found the solution.
What I have found is my happy place in life. Because I took all of the previous steps mentioned, I learned what fueled me and what drained me. My days are now focused on things that are going to positively impact my life. Yes, some of those things relate to my career as a classroom teacher. It became apparent that on days I didn’t take on too much, worked out, and connected with someone important in my life, I tended to end my day exhausted, but full of happiness.[scroll down to keep reading]
Who Am I?
Now, when people in all areas of my life ask me about myself, I may still answer with “I am a teacher,” but it is no longer my only defining word.
Strong. Driven. Caring. Thoughtful. Passionate. Challenging. Beautiful.
These are words that I use to tell others about who I am.
The best thing? I actually BELIEVE I am all of those things.
I have found my identity outside of the job I do. If you find yourself in the same place I was just 3 years ago, take the steps to reconnecting with who YOU are. If you need help getting there, reach out to someone in your corner and ask for assistance.
Find YOU, and then embrace it.
ABOUT AMANDA POST
Amanda is a coffee obsessed second grade teacher from southeast Ohio. She enjoys teaching littles and thinking creatively to help her students learn. Amanda thrives on collaboration with peers in order to someday achieve her goal- change the world, one student at a time! Amanda also serves as a Teach Better Ambassador for the Teach Better Team. She couldn’t do what she does without the support of her amazing family and her dog Lily.