An exercise that I do with my undergrads at the beginning of every semester is an identity web. I demonstrate by writing APRIL on the whiteboard, and then surrounding my name with identities that influence my life: STUDENT, TEACHER, BIG SISTER, CHICANA, WOMAN, ABLE BODIED, among others. It’s a fun exercise that gets them starting to identify who they are, what matters to them, and what privilege they have.
Then at the end of the semester we revisit those webs and reflect on any possible changes in their identities. And this time I had two big changes under STUDENT and TEACHER.
The semester ended a about a week ago and I’ve been having a pretty hard time. I submitted final grades, turned everything in for the class I was taking, now everything’s done. Over. Nothing else needs my attention. And it’s so damn weird.
Now I’m not done-done, I have to enroll in a credit hour of Thesis in the fall for my thesis defense, so I’m not outta the woods yet. But basically I’m done. No longer being a teacher is a huge change for me and it’s left me feeling really restless. Dissatisfied. Empty.
It really sucks. I’ve been overindulging in many things because I’m feeling like this – I feel like there’s something that I need to be doing and I feel guilty for not doing it. Other people with anxiety will prob know what I’m talking about. It’s that restless energy that comes from feeling like there’s more you have to do, even when there isn’t.
But yesterday I think I had a bit of a breakthrough. My schedule during the semester is rigorous, my calendar in my phone is color coded, with tons of alarms, and hours in the day are precisely scheduled. It’s the only way I didn’t completely forget everything. Now I’m facing days where the only thing I absolutely have to do is show up for my shift at Starbucks. It’s hugely ungrounding to have so few responsibilities and it’s leading to a lot of misplaced energy. But I realized that now is the time to fill my life with activities that I never thought I had time for in school!
So yesterday I went on a walk through one of the parks near my house (and damn I’m lucky to live in Flagstaff where there are just beautiful trails everywhere), I dyed my hair, I read a new book a couple hours. All these things that I’ve wanted to do but felt like I didn’t have time for – I’m realizing that I have so much time now!
My life has felt so short up to now, always rushing from one semester to the next, sprinting through school and living for the reprieve of breaks. But know I have the luxury of a year off from school, from the career I’m trying to build for myself, and I can actually focus on just living.
So when I got up today I watered all the plants in the house. Took out the recycling. Did a short yoga flow. Wrote this post. I´m going to go on a walk in the park again, and try out some new podcasts. I feel like I’m getting closer to living intentionally and I’m very excited.
Thank you for reading, and if you have experienced similar post-breakup-blues, or if you have tips for living intentionally, or anything else, leave a comment and we can chat!