Adventure. sort of.

Adventure. noun. “An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” Conditional because it’s not unusual or exciting, most days.

mountain peak.jpg

It’s been quieter here. I’m probably the only one who noticed.

I was going to write a cheery May Goals post this week. I was going to be victorious and cocky because I did every one of my goals for April. I worked out twice a week and checked out the Red Balloon Bookshop and brought my reject clothes to Goodwill and made salad for my siblings and practiced fancy letter formation.

And then I stopped. Because I could think of one goal for May. And going off dairy for 3 weeks as a skin-improving experiment does not an entire blog post make. For this blogger, anyway.

The issue is: life feels hard and ordinary.

I tell those who ask about my job, “Every day is an adventure.” It isn’t a lie. But sometimes it’s an adventure that I don’t particularly want to be on. Sort of like when a camping trip starts off as the cute kind of adventurous, when there are lots of stars and you’re eating s’mores and you should be in an Eddie Bauer ad. But it truly becomes an “adventure” when the bears get into your food and there’s a leak in your tent during a  thunderstorm and there’s that one mosquito that keeps buzzing in your ear and you want to set things on fire.

This current adventure won’t end for too long. There are four weeks remaining of school, and I have hours left before I’ll be scraping the bottom of my energy reserves. I’ve been avoiding writing, trying to form neatly processed thoughts on this season, because the challenges haven’t changed. The kids are still crazy. Maybe more so, with the sunny days when they beg to go outside and get less than the usual little done. I haven’t slain the dragons that slither through my classroom when the desks are empty and hiss that maybe I’m bad at this. Maybe my classroom management sucks and will always be pitiful. Maybe I’m incredibly boring even though I’m trying to keep kids interested. Maybe my seventh graders are reading this because they continue to Internet stalk me, and they’re nodding and saying “Yeah, really, Ms. Christenson, you are terrible. Your class is lame, and we don’t really like you.”

I know, I know, I know. This isn’t true. My boyfriend tells me every time I talk to him. A kid in my hardest hour asked, “Do you complain about us to your boyfriend?” and I tried to skillfully avoid the question because I do. And he’s nice and tells me that I’m trying and that I haven’t stopped caring and that middle schoolers are crazy weirdos and it’s not my fault. My parents say the same. They say it will get better. Some days I believe them.

I saw a college friend at church last week, and I asked him how teaching was going. We both started in the middle of the year with similar situations. “It’s so hard,” he said. And I exhaled and nodded because it is. He said that he’s not getting through things, that he doesn’t like how he responds to the challenges of keeping a classroom under control, that he’s so ready for the year to be done. Me too. This is the hardest dang adventure.

There’s this quote I keep seeing. It says: “Are you living just a little, and calling it a life?”

Right now it makes me sigh. This teaching thing is supposed to be a profession where we make a difference! and inspire! and do something that matters! Instead I spend my days saying life-giving words like “You need to stop talking,” and “Take your seat,” and “Take your headphones out of your ears” and “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP YELLING. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?” (internally).

It feels like living just a little. We are not having interesting conversations. We are not diving deeply into literature. We are barely even getting in good directions and effective modeling because they interrupt me too much. It is the adventure of can we survive this day without the teacher losing her mind.

At the end of a day, my life feels so full. I’ve emptied myself, and I end on the couch, hoping for just 10 more minutes to recharge before I have to begin again. But I wonder if I am living just a little. I don’t know how to make it a life. I don’t know how to fix these challenges. I don’t think I can.

All I can do: show up. Drink tea, every morning. Try not to count the days until summer (try). Be kind even when I want to yell. Keep trying. Keep caring. Keep hoping that someday (maybe) this will turn from fight-for-survival adventure to the kind that’s fun. The kind that builds a life.



8 thoughts on “Adventure. sort of.

  1. Amen.

    But it is okay. It’s acceptable to count the days until summer. It’s okay to want to scream at the thoughtlessness and noise of middle schoolers. It’s a first year – and maybe harder for you because this hit for me around Christmas (and my couch crashing included ridiculous Netflix binges because I simply couldn’t function), and you have to deal with summer sun outside the window. I feel ya there.

    It’s hard. It sucks. I told Dr. Nelson not long ago that if she watched me teach now, she’d probably be ashamed. And she said she wouldn’t, because she was once a first year teacher too. So keep up the good fight. You’re learning, believe it or not, and this hard place will eventually open up into living. (At least, I hope so! 😉)

    • Ah, thank you for this. I have felt the same thing about college professors – it’s survival practice more than best practice happening now, and it’s not my favorite. Your solidarity is encouraging. I hope you’re hanging in there, too! You’ve almost finished an entire first year – what an awesome accomplishment.

  2. I have been saying those exact same life-giving words to my class and having the exact same internal dialogue approximately every stinking day this year! The catch is this, I have 5 year olds throw their arms around me and tell me they love me right after the life giving words are spoken and bounce off them. You have 12 year olds interested in your life in a non-creepy way while you are speaking those words and their brains have tuned you out! If they want to get to know you, they like you and are learning something from you. The bottom line is this, everyday that your internal dialogue stays internal is a win! Everyday that someone gains an insight into any aspect of life because they are in your class is a win! Everyday that you listen to your parents tell you it will get better and you actually believe us, is a win!

    • I like the line about listening to my parents being a win here – is it a win for you or for me? 😉 Thanks for your encouragement, now and always.

  3. Hi Anna- I haven’t visited before, but felt prompted to. What has helped me through challenges and challenging people is to remember that we always wear the breastplate of righteousness. We are not always aware of it, but it is always there!! Reminding ourselves of it is empowering, enabling us with power to be kind to those that are not or still maintain a good attitude in hard situations. Hebrews 6:11-12 talks about being sluggish — but that we should show diligence. Hebrews 5:14 talks about not being able to have discernment because we do not “practice”. Practice makes perfect! Kind of :). I am working on my practicing skills too. Good luck!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kristen! What good reminders – it’s so true that when I finish a day, sometimes I know it was only by the grace of God and the skin of my teeth. Good luck in your practice, too. 🙂

  4. “The issue is: life feels hard and ordinary.”

    It does, it does, it does. I’ve been thinking about this, too. We’re moving and making all sorts of decisions and it just feels harder than it needs to be. You’re on my mind, Anna, as you navigate the last few weeks of this year. I am praying your summer is restful and rejuvenating and that the answers to your questions are found in the sunshine.

    • Abbigail, thanks for your kind words. One of the things I’m seeing more and more is that I am never isolated in my challenges (I often feel it through comments like yours here!) – and even though this season of life is hard for you, too, I hope you’re sensing that as well.

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