Shedding light

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I had a recent conversation with a friend from out of state that has compelled me to dip back into the blog. It was one of those conversations that begins very surface-level, but before you know it, the insight of the other person zaps you like a laser and highlights an area of yourself that you have been struggling to accept or understand.

Because of this conversation, some changes have to be made or tough topics explored.

These conversations should be treated like the gift they are. It is rare that we are shown ourselves in a new or different light.

For me, I started to really reflect on what motivates me. During the conversation, I had mentioned being exhausted. Not the typical “oh it is finals and I am drowning” feeling of exhaustion, but a deeply rooted feeling that is steadily nearing apathy. That scared me. A lot. I can’t do what I do if I’m apathetic.

I can’t count on many things in my life, but I have always been able to count on the love and passion for my work. No matter how weary, that energy has propelled me. Until recently. During this enlightening and unexpected conversation, I realized that I sounded jaded and detached from those tasks or efforts in my life that historically drew me through rough times. My friend, who inadvertently focused this beam of insight my way, said, “Girl, if you don’t protect what you LOVE about your work, no one else will. Find your zone and forget the shenanigans of others.” Simple right? I nodded my head in that stunned way we have when we are blinded by new information. I have reflected deeply since the conversation.

Here are some things I realized.

  • I still LOVE what I do. Teaching and students are my passion. 
  • I’m living in an odd state of fear, worried about losing this love because of a bunch of things outside of my control: meetings, administrative responsibilities, the endless fight for funding, etc. Strangest thing? I didn’t know I held this fear. But it has driven a lot of my behavior and mental processing that leads to this chronic exhaustion. 
  • No one can take away this love, but I can harm it by not valuing it or by over-relying on it. Something has to give or burnout is imminent. 
  • I am not powerless in this process. It is my responsibility to protect and grow this love, regardless of the rest of my work life. 

So, what do I do about this revelatory conversation and new observations about myself? What any good faculty member does. I write through it. I process and explore it. I value it as data that can assist future actions. 

Additionally, I strive to keep that light turned on, focused on this previously shaded area of my world as I continue to navigate new demands, processes, and procedures on my #facultylife. After all, it is a passion worth protecting.

Author of article – Lora Helvie-Mason

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