This morning I fell victim to the not-so-sneaky marketing schemes of Instagram and found myself desperately wanting to buy linen sheets. Linen sheets are all the rage on social media lately, whether because they are actually life-changing or simply because too many "influencers" have been sponsored by linen companies recently. Either way, these strangers on the Internet have successfully convinced me that my overall happiness will drastically improve if I introduce linen bedding into my life. I then thought, why would I spend hundreds of dollars on linen sheets for my double bed when I eventually will have at least a queen-size bed? Then I thought, wow, I live at home with my parents and I have oodles of student debt and I'm still in school and the last thing I need to spend money on is linen sheets that won't even fit my future bed. And then I thought, why the FLIP do I still live at home and not have my own place and my own queen- or king-sized bed and enough financial stability to buy myself some goddamn linen sheets?! I tell myself that maybe if x, y, and z were different, I could have linen sheets. But alas, I continue to sleep (not as peacefully as I probably could be) on the bedding allotted to me years ago by my parents because we conveniently already owned them. I don't even know what they're made of, but I do know this much: they're certainly not linen.
Eventually, I calmed down. Is my adult status really contingent on my ability to afford linen sheets? Is my value as an almost 25-year-old human (yikes) determined based on the size of my bed and whether I have moved out from my parents' house? Unfortunately, I decided the answer to these questions was yes, so I justified my behaviour and continued on my spiral. (Don't assume I am so emotionally mature just because I'm nearly a quarter of a century old!) This spiral obviously became less and less about linen sheets and a queen-size bed and more and more about my feelings towards my life and my purpose or whatever it is that keeps me up at night (which, realistically, could just be the result of trying to sleep on sheets that are not linen).
My first problem is that for some reason I myself don't even comprehend, I really believe that everyone has some magical purpose on this earth. Feeling this way has become the bane of my existence. Why do I have to feel this way? Really, I mean have to feel this way. Trust me, I don't want to. It's not a choice. It's a wiring in my brain! (Is this me once again exhibiting emotional immaturity and not holding myself accountable for my own beliefs? Of course not, that would be silly!) But I can't bring myself to believe that a job is just a job and doesn't have to mean anything to you. See, I know it isn't like that. I know there's a multitude of different career paths we could all choose and many of them could make us happy. I also know that people who work shitty customer service jobs, and also probably all accountants, don't go to work because they are thrilled to do what they do. (Sorry to all the lovely accountants in my life -- I truly don't know how you do it! You're the real heroes.) But rather than thinking there has to be one perfect job meant for each of us, I'm mostly uncomfortable with the thought that we spend so much of our lives -- 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for decades and decades on end, to be precise -- at work. I really don't want to hate my life 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for decades and decades on end. I know I go on about this all the time, but I just think there has to be a way to have a job that doesn't suck. But the older I get, the less sure I am that there's something out there for me. (I'm in a particularly pessimistic mood today, by the way. Maybe I should've warned you in advance. Also, it's probably because I'm sleeping on who-knows-what sheets that are definitely not linen. Surely that can't be good for my mental health.)
The older I get, the more I realize how much I crave a simple existence. I don't want to be stressed all the time. I hate being stressed. I spiral when I'm stressed -- have you noticed? I spiral when I'm stressed and I cry a lot. The crying is a non-issue; it's just the way I am. The issue at hand is my stress and constant sense of impending doom. I'm very wishy-washy when it comes to figuring out my life. I'll set off on one career path and feel so sure of it, and then I start to change my mind, sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once, and then I'm lost and sad and -- you guessed it -- stressed. Oh, and crying. For sure crying. And not even in the comfort of a queen-size bed dressed in linen sheets! It's an atrocity! Here's the deal: I had a week or two of seriously doubting my ability and desire to be a teacher. In a matter of minutes I would plummet from the highest high of being so enthusiastic about my decision to the lowest low of feeling like I was absolutely positively choosing the wrong profession. It's been quite the rollercoaster, to say the least.
Something I'm learning from this up-and-down, back-and-forth, winding road of growing up is that I have to accept where I'm at. My time will come. It absolutely will. I will figure out it. I will move out of my parents' house, I will get a nice big bed, and you best believe I will treat myself to some luxurious linen sheets. I will buy my own car, I will pay off my student loans, and I will be financially independent. That's just not where I'm at right now, and that is okay. I convince myself I'm behind in life when I see people my age doing things that I'm not able to do just yet. Comparison is a nasty thing that gets us absolutely nowhere. Theodore Roosevelt summed it up perfectly when he called comparison the thief of joy. It really is a manipulative, deceptive thief. Just because one person is successful and independent at 24 doesn't mean I'm failing miserably because my life looks different at the same age. It doesn't mean I'm doing something wrong. It doesn't mean I'm a step behind. It means I'm living my own damn life, and no two people are on the exact same trajectory anyway, so why does it matter what anyone else is doing?!
If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that we should never wish away time. A dear friend reminded me of this recently and it really stuck. Of course we should never wish away time! The space between here and where I want to be is going to close eventually. The time is going to pass whether I am miserable and counting down the minutes or taking each day as it comes and letting myself enjoy the journey. There is no such thing as being in an "in between" phase; every phase is just as important and real as the next. If only I could take my own advice, I could accept this stage of life and simply allow myself to be happy right here where I am, as I am. Maybe then I could enjoy the next 16 months of my life and not be wishing them away in the hopes of arriving at some more "ideal" future. I'll get there when I get there, but for now, I need to be right where I am. I need to embrace this part of my life for exactly what it is. And one day I'll probably look back and wonder why I was in such a rush to grow up. I might just wish I could jump back into the simplicity of my life as it is right now, although it's hard to see that when you're in the thick of it. It's hard to imagine a time that I would want to go back to my double bed in my parents' basement with sheets probably made of cotton. But surely I will miss this someday. (I also thankfully get to take breaks from this tragic live-at-home situation where I get meals made for me and don't pay for groceries, made possible by long sojourns at my boyfriend's place in Drayton Valley. I'm really so lucky to go between my parents' basement and cheap accommodation in Alberta's finest little oil town!) Despite my own eagerness to be at a different place in life, I know I should savour this season for all that it is. Even if that means not sleeping on linen sheets for another who knows how many years. I'll live. (Maybe.)
Because I have a terrible tendency to start writing blog posts and then leave them unfinished for days, weeks, or sometimes months, I should probably pick up where I left off on my whole quarter-life crisis and unresolved panic attack regarding my potential, or lack thereof, as a teacher. Since starting this post, I am very much at peace with my decision to pursue teaching. I have reflected and shifted my perspective, like the emotionally mature adult that I am, and I feel good about the path I'm on. Well, for now, at least. Ask me how I feel in five minutes.
One major update that undeniably played a role in my rekindled hope and excitement towards my teaching career is that I decided to switch from secondary English to elementary French. Wow, that sounds really drastic when I write it out. After lots and lots of contemplation (and a dash of unhealthy comparison), I realized that I don't see myself teaching high school English. I love the idea of it that I've created in my mind, but when it comes to the reality of it, it just doesn't feel right. To be honest, I feel quite inadequate when it comes to discussing, let alone teaching, English literature. I studied English because I love writing and enjoy reading when the book is just right. And fine, I can appreciate good poetry now and then. But I'm not passionate about it the way a good English teacher should be, and this became especially apparent after meeting some lovely future English teachers during my first practicum. Seeing their passion for and extensive knowledge of literature only solidified that it isn't my "calling" (as I mentioned, I've unfortunately been plagued with the ridiculous and life-ruining belief that we all must have a "calling." Yes, I'm rolling my eyes too). Before you start thinking I only decided I was unfit to be an English teacher because I compared myself to others -- that pesky habit that I literally just said we should avoid at all costs -- you should know that meeting these people merely confirmed what I was already feeling. Even before my interactions with these wonderfully eager English majors, I was seriously doubting my path. I think English teachers should be oozing with passion when it comes to literature. I think they should be so contagiously excited about what they're sharing with their students. I think they should be a lot of things that I'm not. But rather than feeling confused and sad and out of place because of this, I decided to make a change that has brought me a lot of peace, and now everything is starting to feel right.
Realizing and accepting that I want to pursue elementary education has brought me immense joy and also relief. Relief from trying to force myself to be something that just didn't feel natural. I loved being in French Immersion when I was younger, or better yet, I loved getting home from school so I could hurry to my little makeshift school setup and pretend that I was the teacher, not the student. My childhood dream was literally to be an elementary French Immersion teacher. I don't think that has really changed. Over the years, I've tried to think of a million things I could do with my life before finally returning to what has always been in my heart. OK, so maybe my younger self's idea of teaching was very different than what teaching really is. So maybe I just loved writing on whiteboards, making fake attendance lists, and having jingly jewelry chime as I enthusiastically instructed my imaginary students who, might I add, did not have behavioural issues or diverse learning needs and certainly could not talk back to me. I am well aware that my childhood dream world is nothing like the real world of teaching. But still, parts of the job make the 8-year-old in me squeal, and I think that's a good sign. I've always believed we should try to live in a way that would make our younger selves happy, so I think I'm on the right track. On top of this, French Immersion teachers are almost always in high demand, so I'm far more likely to get a full-time position taking this route. And you know what a full-time position means?! Maybe, just maybe, a queen-size bed and linen sheets. But I'm living in the moment, remember, so I won't get too ahead of myself. But a girl can dream.
The real question here is still left unanswered: are linen sheets really worth the hype?! I'm waiting until I'm a proper adult with a queen- or king-size bed before I splurge and find out for myself, so don't go starting me a GoFundMe page just yet. I know you were all thinking it, and I so appreciate the gesture, but it's just not my time. I don't think I even deserve linen sheets yet. Remember in my last post when I said I spilled food on a comforter three separate times over the span of just a few hours? Yeah, I'm not ready to have nice things. Will I ever be?! Uh oh, I feel another spiral coming on. This must mean it's time to go. Before I sign off, I must ask: does anyone out there have linen sheets?! Please do tell me all about it. I'd love to live vicariously through you.
(Since this turned into more of a life update than a fun and quirky post, I just thought I should note that I very well may not be able to successfully switch into the elementary program. A switch can't be accommodated if there isn't room in the program, in which case I would continue on my secondary English path. The good news is I'll still graduate with K-12 certification, so I could end up teaching any grade. And heck, if I'm not able to switch, maybe I'll end up enjoying high school more than I anticipated. Either way, I think everything will work out.)