I fell for the trap. Getting amped up about teaching, then pouring my soul into the school I am at (Loyola Academy), and now feeling sucked dry by the institution I have given my last eight months to. The experts warned me about this, and it comes as no surprise given the nature of this program: new job, new friends extending from my new job, new community centered on my new friends extending from my new job. It is as if my life is a plinko board, with every moment of free time, directly or indirectly, funneling back into Loyola. My roommate would call this the bottleneck effect. It is not a bad thing by any means; often I find myself enjoying the moments I spend at Loyola. And I am fulfilling a deep need: the feeling of importance in the work I do and the people that I spend time with. But un-inspiration is inevitable, and even the snappiest of shirts start looking bland on the same pair of khakis, day after day, week after week. My immediate response is to chalk up this feeling to “going through the motions”. But that is not quite it; such a canned answer would be insincere at best.
I think this is “I am operating out of fear” mode. At the beginning of the year, I strolled into Loyola wearing a façade of confidence, surreptitiously terrified that I would be exposed as an incapable greenhorn well out of my element. I frantically worked to get acclimated while portraying myself as calm, cool, and in control. I have fumbled my way through the routine, to a point of comfortability, and now that I am here, I am afraid of pushing ahead. After all, it would be easier to keep coasting where I am at, with the relationships I have, than to keep moving forward. What I am doing now is working, or is at least functional. But is has lost the edge of challenge that I am sure an expert educator craves. I suppose it is because I am nervous, nervous that continuing to progress and improve would be difficult and would expose me to criticism. What I have learned is that the “motions” (the ones that people sometimes “go through”) are banal, if not easy. What I have also learned is that at an institution founded in the spirit of St. Ignatius should never be so commonplace, and thus the teachers working within it must refuse to be commonplace.
And perhaps my opportunity presented itself today. I was asked to coach track because of a lack: we now lack a track coach. As I worked to find an excuse not to do something I have never so much had thought of doing, I realized maybe the challenge would be good. Engaging. It is a small change from the routine, but is uncomfortable and new. It is reminisce of the early days at Loyola where everything was new. And for that reason alone, it is probably something I should do. At a school like Loyola, where there is a need, perhaps the uncomfortability is the best reason to take up such a task. If I hate it, at least it challenged me, and if I like it, I have yet another favorable experience here at Loyola.
The challenge is in that place of vulnerability, but there too is growth.