Mid-year Check

MAY 1, 2017–I was drowning in a sea of final-week-of-student-teaching grading work, and mildly traumatized by what I still hope was an internet troll’s vicious comment on an anonymous end-of-semester survey that TPP made me give to my students. For both of those reasons and a general lack of sleep/time/energy, I decided not to write a post.

JUNE 1, 2017–I was blissfully lazing about in a cabin on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean somewhere near Anchorage, Alaska, contemplating when we would make another trip to the buffet. My little sister and I were lucky enough to join our parents on my mom’s Taiwanese high school’s 40th reunion trip. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted from the final few weeks of May that I didn’t want to do anything but eat, read (for fun), sleep, and take pictures of glaciers. Also, there was no internet on the ship, something that I was very grateful for.

JULY 1, 2017–“I just moved into my new place in Cupertino five days ago and I am driving down to LA tomorrow” busyness excuses aside, I really had no good reason to not write something at the beginning (or middle) of this month, except writer’s inertia from not having really written anything since April 1. Now it is Wednesday, July 26, and the only real reason I’ve finally found motivation to write this post is 80% because I am procrastinating on continuing to reread Lord of the Flies for my 10th grade class (it’s so dark!!! And all the more so because I already know what’s going to happen this time around), because I am terrified of finishing the re-read and still not having any clue how I am going to teach this novel (or anything else, for that matter), 10% because I have wanted to write for two months now and kept opening up my blog page and then doing something else instead, and 10% because I actually have something to write about, maybe.

This post was titled “mid year check” because I had originally planned to write it on July 1, to reflect on the first half of 2017 and plan how I wanted the second half of it to go. 25 days later, I’m not really sure what I was thinking of writing even just three weeks ago. I think it was a mixture of wanting to share my excitement–from moving to a new place and hoping to settle here for a while… potentially longer than I’ve lived anywhere else–and my determination to not procrastinate anymore (haha) on, well, anything (I tend to set my goals really high so that I can get anything done at all in the end)! More specifically, I wanted to renew my efforts at disciplined regular devotional time in the mornings, to map out how and when I would read all the books and plan all the lessons before New Staff Orientation on Aug 3 (now only ONE WEEK AWAY), how and when I would reconnect with all my old friends in the area, etc.

I find myself panicking because I haven’t really done anything I wanted to do, and there are spiders everywhere (both literal and figurative, in the corners of my house and my heart). I feel like maybe I’ve been in this place before, not the exact situation, but something very similar. I think I do very well when I know exactly what I’m supposed to do, but I panic when the expectations are unclear except for the expectation I put on myself to do it extremely well, whatever “it” is.

I find myself feeling incredibly grateful for the many ways I’ve been blessed this year, whether through my student teaching placement and amazing co-teacher, my temporary living situation at Terhune Rd (tuxedo cat included), new and first-ever job in the Bay Area (teaching 8th and 10th grade English at a private Christian school), housing thanks to family connections, friends from college, high school, and even elementary school who live in the area, family that lives nearby, or the incredibly-hard-to-come-by reunion of myself and S after two years of long distance phone calls.

I remember all the times that I’ve doubted whether I should be where I am or doing what I am about to do, whether I’ll make any friends or do my job well (whether that be studying obscure works of literature or pouring apple cider for wealthy French concert-goers or making laptop registration tutorials for new teachers at a turnaround school in Philly or trying to explain English grammar to Korean country kids in a fun way), and the myriad ways in which the Lord has been with me and reassured me before, during, and after whatever event or new life stage I’ve gone through. I remember the joy that I experience each time when the world does not come crumbling down around me, each time when, on the contrary, things turn out quite well and I am amazed by how much I love whatever and whoever is before me in that season and I wish I could stay longer where I was, do more of whatever it is I’m doing, love whoever I’m with just a little bit more.

I remember all this and still, I worry. I worry that this time, I will still fail. This time, I will be lonely, incompetent, disliked, unwanted, and useless, or simply not good enough. I worry, so I am paralyzed with illogical fears that keep me from planning, because I don’t want to see my plans flounder or fail. Eventually, maybe, the pressure of an impending deadline (like New Staff Orientation or, God forbid, the first day of school) will get strong enough to trigger a LETSDOEVERYTHINGATONCENOW fight-or-flight type response and I will suddenly be able to pull myself together and accomplish the bare minimum necessary to not make a terrible first impression at school or ruin my first full-year students’ lives (insofar as one year of poor teaching in English can ruin their lives), but I don’t know if and when that will happen. Maybe it is happening today. Maybe this post is an attempt to get the ball rolling again on all the things I think I should be doing. I don’t know.

My dad gave a sermon recently at my aunt and uncle’s church in San Bruno about a sermon we heard together on January 1, 2017. The sermon that drove me to start writing here again. The main message was this: Having no plan is akin to planning to fail. It is the total opposite of my usual illogical fear-frozen procrastination “plan.” Yet I am too often immobilized by the sheer thought of “all the things I have to do” so that I cannot even plan to do a single one of the items on the list, cannot even bring myself to make the list.

I have a feeling that no amount of worldly accomplishment or praise from other people is going to make me believe that I can do it, whatever the next “it” is. I just have to go do it. Sometimes I am confident in who I am and what and whom I love and what I want to do with my life, and I am infinitely thankful. Other times I am endlessly insecure about every single thing in my life and the only thing I want to do is get to work because I know that once I start it will be okay and I will be able to do it, but at the same time there are a million other unproductive things that I find myself doing instead.

I don’t really know how to end this post, because as much as I would like to write an uplifting conclusion, I feel like I should just stop and go back to reading Lord of the Flies. There is a darkness inside all of us that manifests itself in different ways. Currently mine is telling me that my success/goodness is a façade that is too tiring to keep up, is something I never really had anyway, is ill-defined and confusing and confused. I trust that God is still watching over me and will get me through this strange transition phase, as He always has.

Later (maybe tonight) I will edit and publish a poem that I wrote on my last day at Pton (sometime in early June). There was an unexpected moment of real thankfulness, and fond recollection, and trust for the future, and closure for this past school year in spite of all the ups and downs. Going over that again might help me with this cloud of fear-ennui.

Thank you for reading. I think it helps me to just have written this honestly, and to know that some of you will read it, as you always do.

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