Well, day one of institute is down, and it was much harder than I expected it to be. Today should have been simple: check in on campus, move into the dorm, meet fellow corps members, get a good night’s rest. Although we do have an early wakeup call tomorrow, today there was no lesson planning or grading to slave over. It should have been an exciting first day.
So why did I end up crying through most of it?
I enjoyed my morning in Chicago. I walked around the downtown area and though I missed New York, I was relaxed and excited. The fear set in when I got to institute and saw that I had been assigned third-grade math for summer school. Math? It was the last thing I expected. I am horrible at math, and I hadn’t even considered the possibility of teaching it this summer. Challenging as the assignment may be, though, I know I will need to be able to teach math in fall, so why not start now? It shouldn’t have been a huge deal, but my insecurities worsened as I entered my hall, which buzzed with upbeat chatter. I introduced myself to my hallmates, who had already become fast friends in the room next door, but found myself wanting to retreat into my room (a single). Everywhere I went people seemed to already be clustered in groups. How had everyone already become friends?
I spent most of the day in my room trying to get a grip. It’s not like me to become that emotional and shy. My friends and family keep telling me what I know, rationally: that it’s natural to be freaked out in a new environment at first, that I’ll get more comfortable, that I will get busy and things will move quickly, that I will make friends eventually. But no matter how true all of that probably is, right now I feel like the kid who eats in the bathroom at lunchtime. I feel lonely, and pathetic for feeling lonely.
I have confidence in my ability to be a great teacher, and I can’t let this experience break that confidence. All of these nerves and fears and anxieties are completely new to me, but I am just going to take it one day at a time. I had a very challenging, alienating first day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. No matter what happens, I have to commit.