So here’s the (general) thing about caregivers – we care, so we give. We give it all… until there’s nothing left. Generally, as a caregiver, this is something I take pride in. I give it all to my students and my loved ones. I hope that they feel prioritized and valued by me, because it truly matters to me that they do.
HOWEVER, this often ends up being at the expense of my own well-being. Now, I’m really trying to be better about this. I’ve sought mental and physical help from professionals, found communities I identify with (shout out to The Fit Girl Gang and The Soul Squad Community!), cultivated my own wellness practices, and committed to an identity as a lifelong learner and… improver? (not a legit identifier) …. BUT I still struggle. I am a teacher in a political atmosphere that has steadily de-valued teachers, cutting our finances and resources. I am also a teacher of high-needs students, whom I care about immensely, but whom also demand a lot of my energy, problem-solving capabilities, and emotional resilience on a daily basis. (Sidenote: teachers are not unique in this struggle. We are fighting together with our fellow caregivers – healthcare workers, nursers, social workers, counselors, etc.) This takes its toll sometimes.
Right now it feels like we are in the business of constantly “making it work”. As with most jobs these days, it’s difficult to disconnect and turn off in our home life because we’re always reachable, the deadlines are seemingly piling on and never-ending, and we never – ever – get to complete our to-do lists… but we caregivers are also unique in that we handle all parts of society – the good, the bad… and the downright ugly.
I want to be clear – I am not complaining. I am completely and utterly in love with my job. I adore being a teacher and a caregiver – the kids inspire me and teach me every single day. There is nothing I love more than building connections, fostering belonging, and helping someone find success (particularly in literacy or wellness). On top of that, my job challenges me and fulfills me every. single. day. I honestly wouldn’t trade it for the world but I recognize that I struggle with over-investing already, and now the demands on our profession are ever-increasing while the value of our work is steadily declining. There’s a lot of pressure and, while the majority of us technically accept that done is better than perfect, it is hard when you know you’re not giving your best and you have a vision of how it could be if you just had the time/resources/money/etc.
It is in this struggle that we often find ourselves depleted, crossing our fingers and praying that we make it to the next refill station. We are limping our way through, sputtering the last of our reserves, and hoping that no one notices that this might be the time we don’t make it to the next lap. It is in these times that we forgo our own self-care and completely forget to prioritize ourselves because the demands of our roles of caregivers are all-consuming. We don’t eat properly, sacrifice sleep, over-promise our abilities, over-caffeinate, under-hydrate, entirely forget about exercise, and our personal lives suffer.
It is in these times that the seemingly hardest things to do become the most important.
I know it’s cliché, but we cannot pour from an empty cup.
I’ma shout it out that for those in the back: YOU CANNOT – I REPEAT – CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP.
What are you giving if you are running on empty?
Just some food for thought.
Sending good thoughts and gratitude your way.
In love and gratitude,