I’ve always had doubts about what I’m doing. Whether it’s been working as a teacher, being in the Army, being a student, or doing any of the other jobs that I’ve done, I often start wondering what life would be like if I were doing something else. I get tempted by jobs that seem easier, or more rewarding, or that pay better. I think of what it would be like to lose the stress, to be able to work less and earn more, to have a better schedule that fits my personality and my body’s cycles better.
Since I started teaching high school a few years ago–after many years of teaching college–I’ve found myself wondering more often than ever whether I’m in the right place, or doing the right thing. The number of frustrations in this particular line of work is incredible, from students who aren’t willing to do any work at all to administrative demands to frustrations with curricula, among many other things.
But on the days I start to get frustrated and I start to wonder, I’ve developed a set of habits that I believe help me to see things more clearly in the midst of my frustration. The first and most important thing that I do on the down days is to remind myself how I feel on the up days. Not what happens on the up days, not what I’ve done on the up days, but how I feel on those days. After all, it’s that feeling that’s important, for it’s that feeling that helps to make those days what they are. Sometimes we get it backwards and think that nice times make us feel good, rather than seeing how our positive feelings contribute to making those times nice.
Secondly, I remind myself that life and God have a plan for me. I am where I am for a reason–it’s not a mistake or a coincidence. I’m not working with the wonderful human beings at my school for no reason at all. I’m there because I have something important to contribute–possibly many things–and because I have something to learn–probably many things. And where I am must be the best place for all that to happen, or I wouldn’t be there, now would I?
Finally, I remind myself that this, too, must pass. These feelings will pass, this frustration will pass. And probably sooner rather than later, as long as I let it.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been on ups and downs, feeling completely at home and feeling completely out of place. But inside I know that for now, I am where I’m supposed to be, and it’s up to me to recognize that fact, accept it, and appreciate it. Life and God have some pretty good things in mind for me, and I can find out what they are as long as I’m accepting and willing to allow things to be as they are so that I can add my contribution to the world in which I live, and to the people with whom I’m sharing my life.