Up until a year ago, for most of my life — except for about a year and a half — I’ve either been in school or worked in one. My life has been defined by the undulations of the semseter — the frenetic energy at the beginning, the two week lull, midterms, another lull, and finals. Everything I did was bound by time — my heart would start beating faster anticipating the frantic energy in August and wouldn’t slow down until December when I would crash from the intensity of the previous 3 months. The other day I realized just how strange it was that, while for most people I know it’s the beginning of the semester, yet for me it’s the same old routine.
I guess I’m finally starting to recover from working in academia.
It’s been a difficult journey, leaving the university teaching life. Nine months out of the year would be super-intense. So much so that on the weekends I would crash out on the sofa with a good book and forgo a more active social life for what I thought was a greater good — my career. Well, time flew by and I was left with little, save for a ‘case’ of really bad burnout. So bad, in fact, that even though my (now former) professional organization is meeting this week, I could care less. So bad that I now no longer have anything in common with most of the people I went to grad school with who stayed in the field (which are few, since the English language teaching world is a tough one.) I took one step off of my career path and now not only am I totally going in a different direction (don’t quite know where yet, but it doesn’t matter these days) but even my sense of time has changed completely.
I no longer care about Spring Break or when holidays begin. Working from home everyday flows into the next, one into the other. It might seem boring or that time is slipping away from me, but in fact the past two years (almost) have been the most intense and maybe even conscious years of my life since I came back from overseas. Each day seems the same, but actually it’s different. I’m not tied to a desk or a class schedule designed by someone else. I don’t have to hold office hours or listen to students trying to change their grade. I don’t have to wake up super-early or work on the weekends grading piles of papers. I can control where I go and when. I can rest when I need to (a lot, 15 years of teaching was really exhausting!), take breaks when I want, and teach only as much as I have to.
It’s a relief. And in fact it feels like I have just woken up from a long dream where I spent most of my time sleepwalking through my life.