Reclaiming Joy

I have a tendency to exaggerate. However, I’m not being over-dramatic when I say that 2017 has been a nightmare.


Somehow, I got through my first year of teaching, surviving angry parents accusing me of being a racist, having gum and erasers thrown at me, and being told every day by several students that they hated me.


But I survived. I have grown and–not to be arrogant or anything–but I’m exceedingly proud of the growth and healing I’ve been able to go through as I endured constant verbal and emotional abuse.


On days when I felt like I couldn’t go on, more seasoned educators would tell me to hang on and keep with it because the next year was going to be better. They were right. Despite a number of minor issues with a handful of my students, my overall workload feels a hundred times easier. But as I’ve been reflecting on this past semester, I can’t help but still feel exhausted and discouraged.


And yet, it has taken one of the roughest weeks of my life to remind me of one simple truth: I AM IN CHARGE OF MY HAPPINESS.


It’s easy to huff and complain about the boy who doesn’t follow even my most basic instructions or the girl who disrupts class by shouting, “Shut Up!” at everyone who upsets her. I’ve had countless days when I’ve let my stubborn, hurting, ignorant students sour my mood.




As much as I’d love all my students to do everything I ask the first time, I’ve realized that their failures shouldn’t affect my awesome day.


When a parent or guardian is condescending and screams at me for how incompetent I am as a new teacher, I can choose to believe that they are simply having a bad day instead of taking their insults to heart. And when a colleague berates me, I can take a deep breath and resist the urge to yell back since I have absolutely what struggles they are facing in their personal lives.




Christmas is in a week. I know it can a very stressful time. There can be pressure to find the right gift. There can be frustration in dealing with relatives. There can be money troubles. There can be a sense of discouragement at not accomplishing goals in the past year. And so on.


I’d like to leave you on the note that no matter what is happening in your life, you are only in charge of you. There are only so many things that you can control, which might leave you feeling powerless. But you have the greatest strength of all–control over how you respond to a situation. When you feel like you need to lash back, don’t react yet. Take a moment to breathe and remind yourself that you have all authority over your joy. Smile and reclaim it.