I was in college when universities started instituting fall break. Administrators started realizing that the fall semester -- which often coincides with starting at a new school or beginning a new field of study -- is exhausting.
So as a woman academic finishing up the first month of the fall semester, you may be feeling exhausted. Not just tired. Not just drained. A bone-deep weariness.
The word “exhaustion” comes from the Latin “exhaurire,” which is a verb that means to means drain out. As an academic, that’s what you do: drain out in your teaching and scholarship.
Here is my gift to you until you can have a fall break for real: a letter to yourself. You may want to copy and paste it into a document or your journal so you can add your own details and specifics. Let yourself write to yourself and hear yourself. Let yourself fill yourself back up.
I know you feel exhausted right now. I want you to remember all you’ve done. College, grad school, teaching, writing, being courageous with your life. These are things to be proud of. Sometimes you feel this pride, but recently you’ve let the doubts and worries about yourself and your future overwhelm you.
When you first started on this path, you were focused on the present: what was right in front of you that you had to do. You felt grateful simply for being able to study and think about your work. I want you to return to that feeling now, realizing all you have.
Look around you at your life, and find five things that bring you joy. They can be simple things. Your coffee mug. A window near your desk. A nice pen. Now think of five things in your mind that bring you joy. Your child? Your partner? A book you just read?
What are your 5 joyful things?
Do not worry. Do not live in the uncertainties of the future but in the plenitude and comfort of all that you have in front of you right now. Let the joy of this bubble up. Your life is meant to be lived as a celebration of all that is.
If you’d like to work with me individually to break through your writing blocks and find joy in your life and work again – plus get the support and accountability you need to meet your career goals – please join me for The Feminar that starts in January.
The Feminar is a unique 3-month online program for women educators to inspire their writing, research and teaching.
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a writing coach with 20 years of experience teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels in universities, as well as in diverse community settings. She specializes in working with women in academe.