So. Life moves fast around here! Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t have time for the internet anymore!” and actually believed it? Neither had I, until I moved back to Prague. I had so much free time while in school, even up to the last year of university, despite having a full load of classes and a job or three, plus commute time and doing things and cooking every meal for myself. I almost didn’t believe it was possible to have a lack of free time.
And I guess it’s not really about a lack of free time – it’s about a lack of motivation. Of drive. Of waking up in the morning feeling energized because you know what you need to do to get through the day. That was comforting to me – I always knew what the day would bring, more or less, and I knew I had the tools at my disposable to be successful, or at least get it done. Oftentimes I would lament that this was boring and I had too much leisure time and not enough things to fill it with.
Since I’ve returned to Europe, though, my days have been filled with controlled chaos. Having abandoned my normal routine almost entirely just to survive my teaching certification course, unable to get too comfortable with being thrown something new each week, I’ve been scrambling to find some degree of normalcy since. I need a new routine, one not based on stress (sorry, TEFL, but it’s true). I’m still working on that.
After the course was finished, I had a few weeks to myself, mostly to do some healthy breathing more than anything else, and then fell into a job. And I mean that almost literally. I started training the very next day after the interview, in fact, and only had one day to wonder what the hell am I doing before starting actual work. Teaching English, of all things (and maybe French?). I know – what?! What a turnaround! So I spend my days waking up way earlier than real people usually get up for work, commuting sometimes up to an hour from lesson to lesson, teaching people who in some cases are old enough to be my parents. Every day. Often, I’m home by lunch time with the rest of the day off to do as I please. Which, for now, is usually a nap, due to overwhelm, and lesson planning, due to nap time guilt. Slight routine, but it needs some tweaking. I still haven’t worked my way back up to doing things for fun again.
Because I’m just starting out in this official capacity, I feel a little bit like a fraud. Like I’ll show up to a lesson and one of the students will call bullshit on me, even though I’m qualified to teach them. The thing is, I hardly feel qualified. I’ll trudge through my plans, thinking it’s not good enough and this is the one that’s going to ruin what I’ve built here, but somehow, miraculously, everything turns out mostly fine. People keep showing up to lessons, laughing at my jokes, filling out boring worksheets, listening to me talk about language learning strategies and etymology. They see me as a valid source of information, and that’s not a role I’m used to playing. Not when it matters, and definitely not in front of strangers.
But this is also exciting for me, and makes me feel powerful – somehow I’ve learned to deliver a good lesson (not necessarily great or masterpiece work, but definitely not shitty either) and engage with people I might not otherwise have anything in common with. I can be flexible and work within strengths and weaknesses of a group, and turn a floundering exercise into something that’s still useful. After almost every lesson, I walk away with a triumphant smile: take that, Past Me. I’m doing it. And now I’m taking a nap because I’m worth it.
So I guess I got my college wish: I’m no longer bored, but what I am is overwhelmed and exhausted. I find this to be a bit of an unfair trade-off. Why didn’t anyone warn me about this? And more importantly, when do I stop being overwhelmed and tired so I can get my hobbies back?
Further research needed; will update periodically.