Education has always been an essential part of my life, even at a young age. I’ve always looked forward to going to school, as it felt like a safe space for me. I also looked at my teachers and professors in absolute awe as I saw them as the pinnacle of knowledge, the holder of all truths, and I wanted to be that.
This semester I had the remarkable opportunity to hold the title that I felt so fondly of. During my final year as a graduate student, I was offered a TA position, in which I built my schedule and syllabus from scratch to teach English 220: Introduction to English. I quickly learned that I now hold two titles: teacher and student. It’s a strange phenomenon because from eight in the morning until lunch I am the teacher. I make lesson plans, email students, grade assignments, and am front and center in the classroom to lecture with curious eyes on me. But then my role is reversed once I attend my grad seminar and make my way to my desk. Often, my roles may intertwine, such as when my students ask insightful questions and inform me of things I haven’t heard of or considered.
Being a full-time graduate student while teaching my very first course is a constant rollercoaster of emotions. One moment, I love what I’m doing; I enjoy attending my classes and giving my students help and resources, but then the next, I feel burned out, overwhelmed, and frustrated because I put myself on the back burner. Finding a balance between work, school, family, friends, and yourself is difficult, but it’s mandatory. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling like your work is burdensome, but it isn’t; it’s simply a lot, and that’s okay. Being honest with myself, my peers, professors, and even my students has been a huge relief for me, and it reminds you that this feeling of chaos and distraught isn’t just a “you” thing. Having those open and honest conversations reminds me of how far I have come and that I should be proud of the progress I have made. Whether I am the teacher or student, it is all a learning experience, and I’m thrilled that at least I am fortunate enough to have this significant memory in my lifetime.