I spent 2 years after college trying to work on my anxiety and repair my self-confidence. Even in going back to a job I had done before I felt incapable of doing things right. I was always anticipating someone was going to tell me that I did everything wrong. I was so fragile, when a coworker asked me in a non-threatening manner why I did something I started crying. Eventually I gained more self-confidence but I was still waiting for the storm.
Fast forward to the end of the 2 years, it was time to send applications to schools. I so desperately wanted a chance to finally make a classroom my own and in my own way prove to those smug college people they were wrong about me. The summer went on and I wasn’t getting interviews or offers despite filling out applications across 4 states. From the few phone interviews I received I had this gut feeling that former supervisor was creating doubt. I started to fall into some self-pity when summer was coming to an end that I wouldn’t be taking off with my career just yet. And at the seemingly last minute an opportunity came open. I was grateful, excited and optimistic.
The principal wanted me within the next few days, so I packed a weeks worth of clothes, booked a hotel room and hit the road from GA to NC. When I arrived, I was taken immediately on a tour of the school and introduced as the new 2nd grade teacher then given my classroom on the 4th and 5th grade hall full of extra stuff no one else in the school wanted. I was also informed that I’d be with my class the beginning of the next week (school had already been in for 2 weeks). I knew a total of 1 person (the connection that got me the job), had no place to live, much less enough underwear to last me til then. None of that mattered, because I was so thrilled to have my chance. I was fortunate to find a coworker that let me stay at her home for a few weeks and my mom was able to bring me some clothes and other necessities to get me on my feet.
Everything was new and a little scary. I went to work everyday determined to do my best and try my hardest. It was more difficult than I had imagined but not anything I thought would be too bad-at first. As the weeks passed, I felt like I just couldn’t get my footing and my mentor had a very similar approach to those from my college experience. I still kept pushing because I knew everyone has a hard time their first year and none of my problems seemed to be much worse than a few of my coworkers. What I didn’t realize is that 1 or 2 of those weren’t so bad, but all of them together was just a recipe for the perfect storm. My confidence plummeted and again I felt that I couldn’t do anything right. Eventually I got angry. It was my only solution to protect myself. I still did everything I could for the kids but instead of being afraid of another criticism, I got angry at it and them for not actually helping me. At the end of the year it was clear they didn’t want me there but it didn’t phase me because I didn’t want to be there.
In some ways my confidence was shaken and in others it was stronger than ever. I decided there were experiences in that year that I wouldn’t let them take away from me. I moved away from home, found a place to live, began a new relationship, and showed up for work everyday. All of these are big steps especially on your own at the same time. Those accomplishments will never be diminished in my mind.