Sisyphus...a modern tale

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sisyphus was "condemned to an eternity at hard labor. And frustrating labor at that. For his assignment was to roll a great boulder to the top of a hill. Only every time Sisyphus, by the greatest of exertion and toil, attained the summit, the darn thing rolled back down again." You can read the whole tale here:

Sometimes I think that this is my fate. Somewhere along the line, I did something terrible and this is my punishment. I know though, that really, it's all in my head and that I'm the only one who can control any of this.

Work has I'm pleased with my kids' progress for the most part, and though my hours are still long, I feel, for the most part, that the time is well spent.

My relationship with my colleagues is suffering though. Earlier this year, one counseled another (newer teacher) to "Not become" me....meaning taking my work so seriously that there isn't room for anything else. Last week during a team meeting, we were talking about how we need to get on the same page about what data we are tracking and how we are tracking it, how we assess and how often. I noted that there are lots of things our new grading and data tracking system can do to help us with that. Others noted that not everyone is using the system correctly, if at all, and that we need to build in some accountability there for next year. We tossed around the idea of working this summer to design PD around these needs, and someone I really respect said that unlike the majority, I have no life, and I don't get that others don't DO the things I do because they don't WANT to--it's not important to them...and I simply can't relate.

And she didn't lie.

I can't relate. I get irritated when the colleagues with kids (and a couple of those without) come in late, don't follow through, take extra time off, don't show up to our students' events, don't do their part to make things run smoothly. I am one of four who don't have kids... So no, I can't relate. I see the things we are asked to do like before and after school meetings, data discussions and tracking, chaperoning of events, plan time meetings with one another, school-wide events, summertime planning for the next year...all of that is just part of our job. When someone doesn't do that stuff because "they have kids, and shouldn't have to do those things," they are essentially opting OUT of their job in my view. I get annoyed when they choose not to participate and then complain when "they aren't being consulted or included." I can't consult or include you if you don't show up to the discussion!!

Here's an example. Friday night our grade level put on a performance, once in the afternoon for the school and anyone else who wanted to come, and then again that evening. Instead of watching the performance and supporting our kids, one colleague holed up in her classroom. I'd heard that she wasn't planning to come to the evening performance, and she finally mentioned it to me as she flew out the door shortly after dismissal. That night, the remaining two of us had to field questions about why she wasn't there, and give her apologies. I am annoyed because she's known since FEBRUARY when this performance was. She chose to take a weekend trip to the mountains instead....planned three days before. She was never intending to come though--others had mentioned it weeks ago.

It looked bad to our parents, our board, our community as a whole, that one of the three of us wasn't there to support our students. But more importantly, her KIDS were upset by it. They were sad their teacher wasn't there. They were vocal about it. I had to answer questions like "How come you always come to these events, but she never does?" It broke my heart and I didn't know how to respond in a way that didn't paint her in a bad I skirted the question and minimized why *I* choose to come.

When my respected colleague said that I have no life, she's right there too. I got to work and I come home. I don't go out of town unless it's school related--where would I get the money? I rarely participate in local events anymore because I feel that there isn't time and there are more important things to do. Brad and I rarely get out, even though he lives less than a mile from me because the demands on him with his business don't allow it--he's trying to stay afloat with 3 shops, one of which can be very good once it gets going. We talk online, and both of us are working... Could we do this in the same house? Sure we could...but so far it hasn't happened--there are a ton of other issues/factors in the way to allow it. So I wait. I posted about waiting a while back...I spent a lot of time waiting. I'm afraid to get involved in anything for fear that I will miss something...but really, I'm missing everything.

I watched a short video the other day, when we had a snow day and I spent 90% of it working to get caught up on the things I'd brought home, about a "new and improved" way to look at weight loss. The first thing the girl said was that often, we are so focused on tracking food and fitness, that there isn't any room for the important and enjoying life. We think we're "taking care of ourselves." In reality though, we are just setting ourselves up for failure again--when we do fail, even going so far as to eat a whole bag of something we know is bad for us, it's a deal breaker and we see that yet again, we have failed ourselves...and it just goes to hell from there.

I read blogs here, and while there are some who seem to enjoy this process--working out, tracking food, competing against themselves to continually see improvement, there are many of us who stumble and fall, and eat a bag of dove chocolates before we get up again.

And that is where I am right now. I'm the girl in the corner, surrounded by candy wrappers and an empty bag, wondering what I am going to do any part of my life. I'm sad. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. Do I go the route of Sisyphus and start rolling the rock back up the hill? Or do I try something different. What does different look like? I'm not sure.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hey there pretty lady! It is so good to see you. I am sorry you are going through so much crap at work. I know all about falling off the horse. I just wrote a blog myself about it. I had gained back 28 of my 80 lbs. Mine was mainly stress too, not from teaching but student teaching (finally about to graduate though) yay!

    I have no doubt you will get back to where you want to be here. I am here for you and rooting for you.
    1893 days ago
    I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. I always find it frustrating to feel like I am doing so much and others are not doing what I think they should do. My personality is one that I am always going to do my best. I am always looking to improve. In this profession, that means that I am often the first to arrive, the last to leave. I work on weekends and holidays. I am one of a few that attend every school game, banquet, concert... I have 4 children and a husband who I sometimes neglect. Thankfully, they are very supportive and often go with me to these events. I am constantly asking my best friend (also a teacher) how can people do their job well by walking in at the bell and leaving at the bell and oh by the way, they NEVER take anything home. Then I wonder, what am I doing wrong?

    I have learned two things over the last 15 years that have helped me. First, I am much better off when I worry about myself and stop thinking about how others are doing their job. We are a team but they are going to do what they are going to do, and I am going to do what I am going to do. So, I started working on not letting it bother me. Does it, yes. But I have just started trying to mind my own business. I cannot control who shows up for duty. I can only control myself. My students and parents see who is showing up. My boss sees it.

    Second, I needed to work on getting a better balance in my life. I LOVE my job (although frustrating at times) and it requires a lot of time but that is only one part of my life. I deserve to have more. For one, my health had to become a priority. If I was balanced, I would not be struggling with being overweight.

    Also, as I begin to get some balance in my life, make more time for me, my students reap the rewards of a more relaxed teacher.

    1894 days ago
    I have lots and lots to say about this! But it is going to have to wait until this weekend!
    1895 days ago
    I have been in your shoes too. I not only don't have kids at home (well my son IS at home but is 45) but my students don't usually participate in all the after-school and extracurricular activities because of their special needs, behaviors, etc. My son and I did about 6 years of running the concession stand for EVERY volleyball, and basketball game. Now, he buys the food and others run the concession stand. I stopped doing it because I was really physically tired out and felt I had done my share. I still take a turn IF they need someone. The same is true for dances and other events - I always chaperone and my son often does also. We had stepped back from that when my health was bad and I was so tired I simply could not do it any more. Now that I am feeling better, I will be doing a couple of events this spring as I am feeling better. I also attend home track meets this year because one of MY students is on the team. Every kid in the school appreciates when they see me at their events. Band and Chorus concerts I am one of about 3 teachers (other than band and chorus teachers) who shows up. My aides are VERY visible at these events too.

    I also am the one to suggest new ways to use the programs to collect more data, etc. Not very popular among others when I do that. I am also the one who does 20 million professional development hours each summer and throughout the school year - I go to conferences and events even when they don't pay and sometimes when not directly related to MY kids - simply because "THAT'S MY JOB" to do MY best.

    I am working on finding ways to relax, have fun, and de-stress - having done that this year, I feel energized to do more rather than less. Last year though I finished the year so overwhelmed that all I could do was NOTHING. So LAST SUMMER I took off most of the summer and CHILLED out - and was renewed and recharged for this year. It really helped me.
    1897 days ago
    I'm sorry that work isn't a happy place right now. I can so relate - I'm one of a very few on our staff that is consistently doing my job and follows through, and I get so frustrated by those who do not.

    And, I feel like I'm in the same place with weight loss / healthiness, too. I get started, I fall back. I get started, I fall back. It's a cycle that I'm having such a hard time breaking!

    As far as work / life / etc. goes - do what's right for YOU. Keep moving - you'll find your balance.
    1897 days ago
    I can relate to being the one who stays on top of things and stays involved. The difference- I have 5 kids and have been in grad school (graduating in May) Most teachers in my current school don't read the books we do as a staff (bi-monthly), don't put in the time to understand what is going to be discussed in meetings, don't reply to surveys, don't come to the few after-school events for students. I will be moved to a different school next year, but don't anticipate things being all that much different.

    In fitness/weight-loss/diet, it is the same thing. My husband describes me as obsessive, but when I lighten up, I always gain. He seems unable to get started and continues to stay in a 20-40lb range (above 300lbs).

    As far as the healthy diet, I have looked at ways to make it easier (making and freezing soups, grilling extra chicken ahead of time, making a bunch of salads on Sunday to have for the week) so that I don't spend all my time focused on that throughout the week. I know there are foods I can have already prepared, so I can go to the kids ball games, that concert with dh, etc.

    You can do this!
    1897 days ago
    Oh career is fine, I just have to figure out how to repair the damage I've done with my colleagues while not losing the respect of the people who keep me employed--I'm less respected by my peers because I don't do "work/life balance" well and I've ended up being resented. It's like I'm the smart girl in school that everyone hated--I don't relate to my colleagues well because what seems to be common sense to me is not to them...

    From a dietary standpoint yeah...I do need to do something different...just not sure what..or how to do it.
    1897 days ago
    I think I got a bit lost...are you talking about changing dietary habits or careers? If its dietary habits, I once read an article that said to look at what those who achieved their goals did and try them out for size. I spent years and years trying every diet under the sun and finally discovered I was seriously insulin challenged. Since getting the right diet for that, Im on my way. So sometimes it also does require a complete change.
    1897 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.