Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 20 2013


This morning I woke up in New Orleans, in Leaf’s bed with the tiniest bit of rain outside. I opened my eyes and, after recovering from being slightly disoriented in a new state, consciously thought about how I didn’t feel good. This is spring break, this is 10 degrees warmer than already-warm Arkansas, this is my best friend’s house.

The follow-up thought to this was what if I leave Dumas, and every morning feels like this one? Admittedly melodramatic, I just can’t seem to get a handle on myself. The quandary of the third year TFA teacher. Am I finished? At a stand still? At a draw?

But if I leave, will it feel better?

I believe in life leading you straight where you need to go. I believe in the omnipresent sensation of vertigo that’s lingered since finishing The Unbearable Lightness of Being the year my mom died. I believe in inescapable depression and blinding joy. I trust the process, I do, and I’m well aware¬† I need to work to follow whatever path I’m supposed to lead.

But what am I supposed to be working on?! But where will my fulfillment come from?! But where I am I supposed to go and what am I supposed to put my energy into and where am I going to find the outside validation that I desperately crave?!

I think what’s ruining me here, now, is the utter lack of guidance. I have a boss that leads me in paperwork and a secretary that yells my kids into line (or at least holds them when I can’t teach with them in the room). I have a team that operates in complete isolation from one another and complains itself into unity. I have a group of 80 English teachers I facilitate once a month in an event that will be obsolete in two months, and a course of 5 writing instructors that love our hour each month together but have zero tangible evidence of results that I so desperately need to get anywhere. Where is my data? Where is my evidence of learning? Where is my legacy for Teach For America? My legacy for Dumas? My legacy for blindly moving to the south and giving three years to it?

What have I been doing all this time?

It’s this daunting potential transition… it’s killing me. In college I had numbers: percent member increase in an organization, total dollars fund raised, conferences attended and presented at, attendance at meetings and programs. I had hard evidence that I was doing something. I had counselors and bosses and presidents to guide me and put me somewhere and pat me on the back when I did a good job.

Here there is just space and static. There is paperwork, red tape, an undeniable feeling of alienation, and countless opportunities zooming or floating or glaring by me. I thought I attempted to grab one? Thought I pulled a few toward me? But what do I have?

Am I in the middle of something productive? Am I at the end of something I should leave? Am I ignoring a major omen? Am I resisting something that will obviously satiate the ache I have for feeling productive and fulfilled?

Spring fever?

Quarter-life crisis continued?

Obvious opportunity to leave and start over?

Solace comes from knowing that, at the least, I have nine more weeks in this job, in this town, with these kids. Nine weeks of opportunity for some great reveal in life. I keep a running mantra: I am 25, I am smart, I am capable, I am willing, I am open-minded and ready to make change, I am humble, I am happy, I am ready, I am ready, I am ready.

One Response

  1. I love this, and I feel the exact same way.
    I am also a third year TFAer, quitting at the end of this year to travel the world.
    Exciting? Yes. Terrified? Definitely yes.
    I also feel like if I could answer a few more of the questions you posed, everything wouldn’t be so scary.

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