When You Can No Longer Rely on Distractions
It’s my first day of spring break.
And I’m struggling.
For the other 18 years of my teaching career, I reached spring break both exhausted and relieved, ready for a break from the relentless and overly-structured schedule of teaching.
But this year?
I’m panicky, only now realizing how much I’ve relied on the need to be online and responsive to my students all day to keep me focused and how much the process of reinventing lessons for the digital realm has kept me occupied.
So now, with the next 9 days stretching out before me with no real purpose and no defined structure, I’m feeling a little crazy. A little unmoored. And a lot anxious.
We all have our preferred form of distraction, that thing we turn to in an excuse to avoid facing that which scares us. Many of us tell ourselves stories about our distractions, convincing ourselves and others that it needs attention, while fervently denying that we’re also trying to escape facing down that which scares us.
Like many of you I’m sure, being busy is my favored distraction. I find a strange comfort in my to-do lists that dictate my days. When I’m on the move, I don’t have too much to pause and just be with my thoughts and my feelings. And when I schedule in those times for mindfulness and reflection, I like knowing that there is a limited amount of time for stillness. I only have to “be” for so long.
Even with the current constraints, I could still manufacture busyness. I could create a rigid and demanding schedule to practice coding or work on writing. I could find some all-consuming household project to eat up all my daytime hours. I could escape for hours on end into books, barely taking the time to look from the page.
Yet even though those things call to me, they don’t quite feel right.
Reality is setting in.
And I think I just need to learn to be okay with it.