The next day after one of my classes, the boss popped her head round the door and suggested our catch up be in an hour, after I had had time to have lunch. And yet again, I went into this little panic having thoughts like ‘you must have done something wrong’ and ‘this ain’t gonna be pretty’ etc. I was also preparing all the things I could say in defence of myself. By the end of my lunch break I definitely had a bit of a knot in my stomach.
So finally came the time for the chat. She asked me how I was and how I had been getting on now that I am on a full-time contract. I replied honestly that I loved working there and the family-like feel due to the small team that we have, and that all was going well, although a bit crazy at times. She then asked what I meant about it being crazy. I told her that, as it was end of term and there was so much marking to do, it gets a bit crazily busy. I could see she was observing me as I expressed all this so I waited for her response.
She said the reason she had wanted to catch up with me was because she had noticed I hadn’t been completely myself this last week, and she was just concerned with how I was going. She had seen I had been looking a bit off and not my usual self, so she wanted to check in and make sure I was okay. When she said this to me I immediately lit up. How lovely it was for her to notice how I had been feeling and offer a space for me to express anything if I felt to! I know how busy she gets, so it really did feel like a caring gesture.
And she was right. I had been off that week. Because of all the marking and admin I had on, I had been feeling quite overwhelmed, and as a result, had been cutting people off, even at times when they were trying to talk to me. I was being very driven to get through it all, but at the same time I hardened to the people around me. Essentially, I had lost connection with the team and was in my own little world of overwhelm, struggling through.
Interestingly, straight after this meeting, I snapped out of it and felt I was more back to my usual self, which is still hardworking and focussed, but also playful and open. I also observed how I could still maintain the amount of work I was doing without having to be serious and trying to ignore everyone. Not only that, I was more open to getting support from others in the team and working together with them instead of seeing them as a distraction from what I needed to get done.
- Firstly, stop assuming the worst is going to happen (an old pattern of mine).
- Secondly, it reminded me that how I am at work really does impact the whole team, and whether it is voiced or not, it does get noticed.
- And lastly, even when there is a lot of work to get through and I start feeling the overwhelm creep in, do not go into serious mode and cut myself off from my colleagues, as working together and sharing how we feel can really support us during those hectic times.