Well, that explains a lot

Aaaand, I started my period today. That explains a lot.

I am SO OVER the emotional mess of the 10 days before my period. So, so over it. The Vitex seems to be helping with physical symptoms (again my boobs didn’t hurt at all, which is why my period was able to sneak up on me), but I don’t know if it’s as effective on taming the emotional chaos. Maybe a few more months of constant use will make a difference.

Really, what is going on, is I am crap at managing uncertainty. I am seriously shit at it.

It’s the end of the school year and every staff meeting, and most random conversations around campus, are all about the upcoming school year, so it’s hard not to be thinking about next year all the time. When my attention is directed toward the coming school year, I’m thrown into a bit of a panic, because I have no idea what it will look like. Even if I stay at my job, some recent upheaval in the plans (the new 4th/5th grade “campus” is not opening next year because of construction delays) has thrown my proposed schedule into the air. Also, I might not have a classroom next year! I don’t even know if they intend to honor my request for a prep 1st period, so I can continue taking my daughter to school.

And then there is the chance, however slim, that I won’t be working in the district at all come August.

I know life is all about uncertainty. I know that nothing we think of as constant and unchanging actually is. It’s all a facade that our mind creates so it can navigate a world of constant uncertainty without losing its shit. I get that, at least cognitively. But it doesn’t stop my heart from racing every time I think about next year.

Living in this limbo is hard for me. I think it’s difficult for people whose jobs are relatively stable (or at least seem relatively stable) from year to year to understand what it’s like to have everything upended in the final months of every school year, with no control over how it all falls. I probably won’t know what is going on until mid-June. That is a long way away.

As an elective teacher in a small district, I have to deal with this, to some degree, every single school year. Adding in the uncertainty of job applications and its a little much for me.

I know I need to create coping mechanisms for this. And in the moment I’m doing a decent job of reminding myself that eventually I will know what is happening and nothing I think or feel now will affect that outcome. It doesn’t make sense to stress about which choice I might make if no choice is currently being offered to me. And I’m finding things about next year to look forward to. We are supposed to have a block schedule 2 days a week next year, which I was so looking forward to for this year and was really bummed about them abandoning in the first month of school. We’re pushing our start time back and I might get to teach a new class or two. I’m definitely supposed to have fewer 6th grade classes. There are things to look forward to, and clinging to those bright spots makes it all feel a bit more manageable.

I’m also aware that some of this stress is the result of applying for jobs and putting myself in the position of being judged by others on my merits as a teacher for the first time in my career. If I don’t get so much as an interview, what will that do to my self-esteem? How will I incorporate the reality that people didn’t even consider me worthy of talking to? I think that is a big part of the stress I’m feeling… what if I absolutely fail to measure up? The last time my ego was beaten to a bloody pulp (by a friend, not in a professional situation), it took me over a year to build myself back up again. I’m still not the person I was. Of course rejection by someone I don’t know, for a job position, will be a different kind of ego damage–not nearly as hurtful I’m sure–but the truth is I don’t know how it will affect me. So yes, I’m incredibly lucky that my livelihood is not at stake, but it’s not like I don’t risk anything in applying for a new job.

It doesn’t help that my husband is also stressed at work, and when he’s stressed he totally shuts down. I have had no one to talk to about any of this, it just roils around in my head (compounded, evidently, by premenstrual hormones).

But now my period is here, and I have a touchstone I can return to: You will know what choice to make if one is presented to you. It’s what I keep telling myself. And even if it’s not necessarily true, I think I can make myself believe it.

I do find myself making a lot more of these decisions than most people probably do. Am I focusing on the wrong thing if money will be as big a factor in my decision as I suspect it will be? Am I destined to make myself miserable by not changing my spending habits to give me more freedom of choice when it comes to how much I make? Do I have the right goals? Am I too afraid of change? Am I too dependent on the security of my current position? I have never had to answer these questions before. I wonder if falling into my position in the way I did denied me the opportunity to explore these important questions a long time ago. It’s a lot harder now that I’m older and have become accustomed to a certain way of life.

And yes, the realization that my Spanish is not where I thought it was has been a blow. But the truth is I haven’t invested much in it since my son was born. It definitely took a backseat to, well, everything, for about three years. Now I finally have the mental capacity to focus on it again. And I can make choices to improve, if that is what I really want to do. Working with L is so helpful, and I like her as a person, which makes our time “together” very pleasant. I have some plans in place. I can get there, or at least get damn close. I just need to commit. Having something to focus on besides my spending and the state of my house will be good for me.

So I’m feeling a lot more… cognizant of what is going on in my head today. That makes everything feel a little more manageable. I know I will get through these next two months, and at the end of them I will have a better idea of what the next school year will look like. I’ll get there, it just takes time. 

6 Comments

  1. Have you talked to your ob/gyn about the 10 days before period chaos that is happening? I am not current on such matters but maybe medical knowledge is increasing …. or not. Just an idea.
    The fact that the chaos emotionally is grounded in real stress doesn’t simplify dealing with the chaos. Having your job go up in the air every year really is hard and any job connected to any level of government today is stressed. With two parents in stress everything gets harder.
    Hang in. You do have support and the stress IS real.

  2. I think your feelings about your work situation are completely normal. Nobody likes uncertainty, and everybody has difficulty coping with it.

    I’m a researcher so I get rejected a lot (trying to publish my papers in scientific journals) and it always stings. I feel like I should be used to it by now (12 year career) but no. Remember that not getting a particular job says nothing about your competence or worth.
    I also relate to the pms stuff. I think I’m a couple years older than you and my mood symptoms before my period have become impossible during the last year. Even though I know they are hormonal, I can’t always reason them away. I joke that I’m gonna take all the replacement hormones I can get during menopause because I’ll rather take cancer than years of hormonal horribleness…

  3. Having been on the hiring end of the interviewing process for the last 7 years, I’ve learned that you can often have many candidates who apply (or even interview) that would excel in a position. So you root out the absolute perfect fit and go with that one. It’s often not a reflection of the competence or ability of the other applicants (other than that they were not quite as good as 1 other person which, let’s be honest, we can all say there’s 1 person out there who’s better than us!)

  4. I am super happy that with depo.t pro.vera shots I have nearly no periods. It’s fantastic to skip the pms most of the time. Have you explored options to manage that? It’s enough to manage normal stress but adding in nasty pms is no fun.

  5. My sympathies on the PMS and the swirls of emotions. I agree that maybe you should talk to your dr about options. I know that chemicals help – I’m on HRT after turning into a witch after my hysterectomy, and I am so much calmer and more centred now. Limbo is hard enough to deal with – and I can imagine how disruptive that is – without the hormonal stress of PMS. Sending hugs.

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