It's real, and we know it, but no one wants to talk about it. So I am.
Y'all. I've been tired and unhappy and even down-right depressed but seriously, nothing has ever been harder for me to get myself out of than burnout. I thought that I had been burnt out before, but this school year has been ROUGH (mentally) and I had to give myself a weekend to rest. Thank goodness that it is hunting season and my hubby (shoutout to Aaron!) is awesome and understanding and didn't take it personally when I asked him to leave me alone for an entire weekend.
So let's get down to it.
What even is burn out? Well, according to a Forbes article from 2013 by Lisa M. Gerry, burn out is " multiple, chronic stressors over an extended period of time left me totally drained and no longer performing at my best." That is the point that I was at. Now, this DOES NOT mean that you no longer love/like your job or what you do, but just that you are so mentally (and often physically) tired that you can no longer do what you do as well asyou know that you can or regularly can do it.
That's where I was. You see, since 2016 I have been fighting for my place at this "librarian's table." I have been fighting to prove myself and show Satan (this awful principal that I worked for and that is what I refer to her is.) as well as an ex-co-worker that I BELONG HERE, DAMMIT. I love what I do and I'm damn good at it (Toot toot!) and I am a damn good librarian who deserves to be recognized for the time and strength and work that I put in. And I finally realized-the only person that I have to prove myself to is ME. (And of course my current principal who is amazing and supportive and everything that I have ever dreamed of.)
I felt like I've been fighting for so long and I finally got to my dream school where I love my students and staff and have an awesome support system that I felt like I had to keep out-doing what I did last year and make it even better! BIGGER BRIGHTER! FASTER! STRONGER! But why? No one asked that of me. No one said "Hey Stephanie what you did last year was awesome, can you make it better?" But that is who I am, and who I feel like we all are as educators. We always want to build and expand and improve. When really, I just need to focus on making ME better and then everything else will follow.
THEN. 1:1 HAPPENED.
My school went 1:1 with our 8th graders at the end of September and at first I was like "YAAS! This is gonna be awesome!" and then I realized... wait.. now not only am I a librarian but I am also a tech? I didn't go to library school for that. I didn't fight this hard for this long so that I could be a chromebook manager. It was hard, y'all. And I can't tell you that there have been days when I haven't had an attitude or been unnecessarily snarky, but I have because I am human and I am tired.
There was a few weeks in particular where I was teaching students EVERY SINGLE DAY-and yes, I realize that this is exactly what i did as a classroom teacher, but that is not my plan as a librarian. I get to build my library schedule and I built it in a way that I have at LEAST one day a week where I can do "library admin" work. You know, ordering books, and looking at data, and SHOOT JUST CHECKING BOOKS IN AND OUT, not to mention creating lessons and collaborating with teachers and trying to find ways to promote new holidays. Y'all I almost ignored Banned Books week because I just didn't have the energy to do it. So like I said, I was teaching every day, dealing with the library bathroom sink not working, answering 100+ tech questions per day, AND working another job part-time (bc the "help me I'm poor" gif is basically my life and your girl is trying to dig her way out of credit card debt." AND eating healthy,AND drinking enough water,AND sleeping 6+ hours per night, AND read all of the books for the Maverick Committee, AND not ignore my poor husband who thank God is patient af and puts up with my craziness. I couldn't even think about blogging or making a video of a booktalk.(And for that I apologize friends, bc I know so many people were asking for vlog updates and I just didn't have the energy to get one done, but I will soon!)
IT. BECAME. TOO. MUCH.
I completely stopped even thinking about exercising. I would laugh at the idea of going to the gym and didn't have the energy to even take my dog for a walk in the evening. so naturally I also wanted to eat ice cream and cake every night AND drink a beer with it. So because I wasn't exerccising and mainly consisting of coffee and sugary carbs, I wasn't sleeping, so EVERYTHING WAS GOING DOWNHILL. I wish that I could tell you that since I could see myself spiraling that I could stop it and change it, but I couldn't. I was too damn tired and honestly, didn't even want to speak to another human at the end of the work day after teaching for 8 hours and having to help 180+ students with their circulation or tech questions.
So what did I do?
I did the unthinkable.
I slept for 12 hours and said the thing that no one ever wants to say: NO.
After work on a Friday afternoon I said NO to not exercising and I went walking with a friend who listened to me and who reassured me that I AM an awesome librarian and I am allowed to take days and time for myself. I went home, got dinner, took a shower, and went straight to bed. Now, I ate my dinner and had a drink in bed, BUT I was in bed. And then I went to sleep. Now this particular weekend, I still had to work my other part time job, but I made sure that when I wasn't at work or church, I was in bed. Watching Gilmore Girls and Hunger Games re-runs and the Astros. No reading. Nothing that would make my brain work. No meditating. No nothing that would make me think or judge myself for being lazy. When friends asked if I wanted to do something, I said, NO thank you; I am resting." It was hard. But I did it.
After the weekend was over, I went back to work and felt so refreshed and ready to tackle my never ending to-do list. I re-scheduled some classes so that my calendar reflects the day that I need, and I am training a Student Tech Team to help answer questions and troubleshoot so that I am not the one always doing everything. Is this the sure fire way to get tings done and get out of burnout? I don't know. But it worked for me. I also scheduled a personal day the after my birthday at the end of this month where I will also be treating myself to a massage that I desperately need. I am going to be better about taking time for me and saying "I'm sorry, no, I can't do that right now." or "II can't add another thing to my to-do list at the moment, but I will get right back with you." or something along those lines. I also re-organized my to-do list. I broke things down into timelines: what needs to be done NOW and what can wait until tomorrow, next week, or even next month. I made that phone call and sent those e-mails that I have been putting off.
Will this always work? I don't know. But I learned a very valuable lesson and that is that I need to take care of ME first or else nothing will work. As educators, we are molding the future, and we have to build relationships to do that, but we cannot do that if we are not taking care of ourselves first. I hope that this helps someone and that you take care of yourself. Take care, friends. ❤