Friends, I am so excited for you to hear from my Story Sessions friend and sister, Abby Norman. She is an amazing spit-fire woman, writer, educator, and storyteller. I hope her words remind you that you will overcome the obstacles you face. You can make it to the other side of the storm! Just. Don’t. Give. Up!
The hardest thing I ever had to do, was show up at my job for 180 days straight.
I’ve birthed two babies with nothing but water as a pain reliever. I’ve written the first draft of a book at night, on weekends, and during the summer, one eye on my children, the other on the computer. I’ve spoken publicly. I’ve moved across the country with my husband. I lived a relatively normal life with a muscle disorder. I’ve poured my guts out on my blog for 446 posts. I’ve ended unhealthy relationships. I have done hard things.
But the hardest thing I ever had to do, was show up at my job 180 days in a row. Seriously.
It was my first year of teaching. I came in sure that by the end of the year, not only was I going to have changed the life of every single one of my students, but that Oprah would hear about it, ask me to sit on her couch, tell me I was special. It was my first year of teaching and I was totally confident that I was going to to do an amazing job.
That didn’t happen. By Labor day I hadn’t even learned all of the kids names, let alone turned any hearts. Three weeks into the school year and my list of failings was impressive. A stack of ungraded papers that I kept meaning to get to was threatening to take over the back seat of my car. I was too tired at home and too busy at work to actually grade them. I had no control of my classroom. Kids came and went and talked and ate and really did whatever they wanted to do, pretty much whenever they wanted to do it. The girl who had sworn that she would never yell or threaten her students was at the board at least twice a day waving a dry erase marker in her hand and completely losing her mind.
Three weeks into the school year, and if Oprah made a movie about me, I would not be the hero. On my good days, the victim; on my bad the villain. I was failing miserably and flailing every single day. The days I did manage not to sink, I came home completely exhausted from the doggy-paddling I had done all day and collapsed into my bed. It was not going as planned.
But I showed up, and I kept showing up. Every day, even when I was terrible at my job and everyone knew it, I kept showing up.
It doesn’t sound sexy or exciting because it isn’t. In the feel good movie about the teacher, the athlete, the debate team, the showing up is glossed over in a montage with a long and loud crescendo. That part isn’t fun to watch.
Showing up is boring, grueling, and very very important. Half way through the semester, I was finally able to tread water on a regular basis, by the end of the year I was swimming (albeit in the shallow end). By the end of my second year I was actually swimming, in the deep end.
I know it is boring and hard. I know no one is giving you any awards or telling you are awesome for showing up at this hard thing that you are doing. I know it is exhausting to fail over and over again. I know you thought that this thing that you are showing up to was not going to be like this. I know it feels like you are drowning some days.
Keep showing up. Keep flailing. Keep jumping in the water. I know it is messier and harder than you ever expected. Just keep showing it. One day you will swim. I promise you will . It may be harder to learn than you ever thought, it may look like drowning some days. But then…then you will swim, and it will be worth it.
Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words. She believes in champagne for celebrating everyday life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then. You can find her blogging at accidentaldevotional and tweeting at @accidentaldevo. Abby loves all kinds of Girl Scout cookies and literally burning lies in her backyard fire pit.