A Year’s Worth of Feelings

This is the last week of school. I’ve done this 22 times before, as a teacher. And yet, I feel lost. I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster. And I’m not really sure why.

from Nick Page’s flickr

  • The last year plus has been hard for many reasons.
  • The future still feels somewhat uncertain, even as it feels more hopeful than I dared dream.
  • My professional community in my school is still iffy (only my second year there and sort-of my first and given the virtual nature of most of the year, I don’t know most people).
  • We lost a young student a few weeks ago, a student I didn’t know well but who I did know and who I feel I failed (although I likely really had little impact on this child – my failure is more about me than about the child)
  • My oldest child just graduated from high school and will be heading to college in two months.
  • I’m tired – physically, mentally, emotionally.

I think it’s likely all of those things are factors in the way I feel. And probably several others that I haven’t managed to identify yet.

I can see so many things for which I am grateful.

  • My immediate family (me, my husband, and our two teenagers) got through the past year plus without too much trauma. We still enjoy spending time together.
  • My family and friends came through this pandemic in pretty good shape – physically, emotionally, and financially. That’s no small thing.
  • I have the most amazing group of third graders this year and their families are phenomenal. I couldn’t have had a better group to get through a year full of changes and challenges.
  • I work on a team of collaborative, thoughtful, kind teachers. Everyone has supported everyone else in so many small ways and very big ways. It is a gift.
  • I’m getting to give feedback on a book cover for my first book, due out in November. I’ve got another book or two already in my mind and beginning to take shape.
  • My kid graduated. School hasn’t always worked for that kid but her response to that has been to push for changing things to make school work better for ALL kids.
  • Our youngest will wrap up 8th grade this year. School totally works for that kid, straight As all year. Lots of time volunteering at our local nature center too, which has been heaven for them.
  • Both kids will perform in an in-person show at the end of this week. They’ve both found things they love and do well.
  • My husband managed to help lead his university through this last year and remain dedicated to his job and the students.
  • My parents were able to be here for my oldest’s graduation, the first time we’ve seen family in person since last March.
  • Much of our extended family is fully vaccinated or getting darn close so the chance to see more family soon is looking good.
  • I got my strongest evaluation ever in my 23 years of teaching.
  • I taught four sections of a children’s literature class at a nearby university and the evaluations (the ones I gave students and the official ones) are very positive.
  • I spent time with my teammates this weekend and with former colleagues from twenty years ago, including a friend who came down from Boston for the gathering and stayed with us. Such a gift to see all of those folks.

I look at that list and can’t figure out why I feel like breaking into tears at random times frequently these days. But I am.

I’m writing this because it helps me to write when my emotions are overwhelming me.

However, on the off chance that you too are feeling the urge to burst into tears at odd times and for unexpected reasons, know you aren’t alone. We’ve been through a period that will be taught in history classes. It has impacted all of us. We are going to feel the feelings whether we want to, whether we face them, whether we believe we’re up to it, or not.

In the midst of it all we did what we had to do to keep going, however that looked for each of us. Now, as we’re feeling like we can look forward and imagine a different world, it’s wonderful and it’s scary.

What do we hold on to?
What do we let go of?
What do we value?
What do we believe?
What do we want?

I think, for me at least, it is important that I don’t just keep going right now. I need to pause. I need to ask these questions and probably many more. I need to think. I need to feel. I need to be purposeful.

It is not easy. But we’re here right now. That’s not nothing.

3 replies on “A Year’s Worth of Feelings”

  1. Linda Nitsche says:

    Your energy, your perseverance (against all COVID odds), your energy, your honesty, your trust in putting it out there for yourself and others has been an amazing for me to experience. I applaud your honesty in sharing your vulnerability which speaks to so many of us. Thank you. Sincerely. My German upbringing taught me to withhold that sharing, that vulnerability, for fear of showing others weakness. But, In time I’ve learned from experiences and from wonderful people like you that there is so much more worth and power in sharing and questioning.
    Your questions are just what I ask. There is so much to learn and consider from this year…the possibilities.
    It’s time to relax, time to reflect, time to consider our next step. Looking forward to the conversation.

  2. Charlene O'Brien says:

    Taking stock always reveals the small things that can mean so much. Your list shows how much you’ve been through. I hope you feel accomplished. I admire all you’ve done and gone through.

  3. […] I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster. And I’m not really sure why.” Jenn Orr, “A Year’s Worth of Feelings,” June 8, […]

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