Is this the new normal?

Day 8 of March Break. Despite a massive list of “to do’s” and goals for this much-needed mid-year respite, I’ve only just begun to scratch a few things off and am already feeling guilt about time misspent. Writing a blog post was certainly one thing on that list, in addition to renewing my Google L2 Certification, prepping my final units for the third term, and doing a video course on Adobe Premiere Pro. These are on top of the almost-too-many-to-list personal “to do’s” that have been waiting for months for me to tackle.

We keep reminding Cohort participants that there is no need to feel #cohortguilt, but then why do I feel it so constantly?

It’s not just #cohortguilt, either. I feel like I’m experiencing guilt in every area of my life these days, and I want to know: is this just par for the course now? Is this the new normal? Will I always now feel guilty if I send my daughter to daycare when I’m home from work? Will I ever have the chance to sit and read my book without feeling like I should be doing something more productive?

I’ve always valued my professional development so highly, so it’s really hard for me to admit that I don’t particularly wantย to spend my personal time to study for my recertification exam. I am not particularly keen on developing a rubric when it seems like everyone else is enjoying themselves on a tropical beach. I can’t bring myself to start that Premiere Pro course because I’m afraid it will end up being like every other online course I’ve started this year and didn’t finish.

Is this just how it’s going to be from now on?

9 Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    What you have written here is totally relatable. I think whether or not this is your new normal depends upon how significant guilt was as a motivator in your life before children. Guilt has always been huge for me, and now that I am a working mother it manifests in a variety of soul-crushing ways. I still haven’t figured out how to quiet the inner nag. If I figure it out I will let you know and if you figure it out you can tell me. Thanks for sharing something that makes me feel less alone.

    1. Thanks for your comment @lfarooq. I’m sorry to hear that this is something that you struggle with regularly as well. For me, I feel like I am doing a terrible job at everything because I can’t manage it all. I’m a bad teacher, employee, mother, wife, Cohort21-er, etc. I know in my heart that this is baseless and patently untrue, but it’s so hard to, like you said, quiet that inner nag. And of course we hear people saying that all the time – “be kind to yourself”, “give yourself a break”, etc. and yet it’s hard to believe it when your own feelings of inadequacy are so strong! Thanks again for empathizing – I felt bad writing yet another negative-ish post, but I’m glad to know that you found it affirming in some small way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Oh boy. Is this ever relevant!

    The busy and the noise is so hard for me to turn off. But when it does, that is a remarkable experience as well. The goal is to be able to do an activity, like reading a book, without the distraction – because then you aren’t reading, you are just holding a book (turns out that doesn’t work).

    I have no answers. BUT today in advising we talked to the students about gratitude and the idea popped into my mind. What if we express gratitude before we sit down to read (or whatever idea we had), would that help bc it would highlight and value of the experience? The conversation in advising today was how gratitude can improve happiness. Here is the link to the video in case you were interested.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg&t=1s

    I am also a big believer in teaching our kids what it looks like and what it means to take care of ourselves. Like putting on your oxygen mask first on the airplane before the children.

    Thanks for posting this and reminding me that this is a common experience for many!

    1. Thanks @amacrae – it’s good to hear that superstars like you sometimes feel this way too! Thank you so much for sharing that video – now I’m starting my morning with tears (the good kind!) and lots to think about.
      Jen

  3. @jweening,

    The only thing “not normal” about this is how awesome and authentic and reflective you are with your very real, very common, very personal struggle to be a mom, teacher, edtech superstar! I love what @amacrae said about gratitude and the oxygen mask. Who knew we had to thank oxygen so much! Seriously, in times when the world seems as if it is resting on your shoulders, remember, like Atlas, you are allowed to take a knee.

  4. Hi Jenn – I could not relate more. Thank you for being courageous enough to be the impetus for this conversation, and to so many others who showed up with words of recognition and support. I have asked myself this exact same question many times, and many times wonder why I don’t seem to be able to keep up with the good intentions I set for my professional self and for the mother I want to be, and I wonder when I will get the balance right. Recently I started investigating podcasts (who has time for self-help books?!!! Podcasts I can listen to on the way to work!) related to time management and a positive psychology approach to developing a rational mindset about the choices we make. I have to say, it is starting to make me a lot more accepting of the parts of the list I just can’t get to. One I really enjoyed was Oliver Burkeman on Modern Time Management – the podcast is called ‘The one you feed’… he talked about the feelings of being overwhelmed by to-do lists in the context of how our industrial society has evolved and why the inputs of our lives have escalated to infinity, yet our capacity for engagement remains ever finite. He has written a book on the topic too called ‘The Antidote’ that apparently is less self help but more journalistic.
    My thoughts on ‘is this the new normal’ is – Yes. it is…. the inputs/requests for our time and attention will always be there, in my view I am just trying to strengthen my mindset around what really matters and try and let the rest go… for me learning a bit about how we as as society got here seems to help process, accept and god-willing one day adapt to it. In solidarity my friend.

    1. Hey @acampbellrogers – thank you so much for your comment. I will definitely check out that podcast you mentioned. The show of support from the C21 peeps has been so amazing and is helping me understand that it’s okay not to be able to do it all!

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