Confession time: paralyzed by anxiety

So, I started a series of posts I was really excited about… and then promptly stopped posting. I know. Dumb.

Here’s why:

For the past few weeks, things have been going very well with my main tutoring gig. My student’s scores have been steadily increasing, I’m getting excellent reviews from students, parents, and my supervisor, and I’ve gotten several raises. My supervisor has even informed me that they will likely soon move me up to the next “tier” of tutor–a move that comes with another raise, makes me more valuable to parents, and generally is a sign that I’m doing a very good job.  I also have had the luxury of a pretty full load of students.

So I was starting to relax into things a bit, starting to get comfortable spending my spare time writing and relaxing instead of fretting about money and applying for more jobs. I’m still not making a lot of money by any means, but I was starting to think that this might be a secure/steady enough gig that I can rely on it while I work on longer-term efforts to improve my skills/get small writing gigs with an eye towards better work in the future.

And then this past weekend, I wrapped up programs with more than half of my students. They’re all taking the ACT on Saturday, so we’ve finished our work together. This is expected and a good thing. ALL of them have seen improvement. There is NO REASON to freak out about this.

BUT. But. I haven’t been assigned ANY new students this week. I updated my schedule/availability with my supervisors last week, and usually within a few days of doing that I get at least one or two potential new students. But this week? Nada.

So now I’m staring down my very open schedule for next week and panicking. As of this moment, I have just under 20 hours of work scheduled for the week. Which is better than nothing, but not sustainable.

It’s really still too early to freak out. Tutoring IS LIKE THIS. There are busy times and slow times, dictated by the rhythms of the school year. For instance, in many places, this weekend is Homecoming… how many parents are going to want to be signing up their students for test prep programs in the week of lead up to that whole mess? It is entirely possible, and in fact pretty likely, that by the end of next week I’ll have new programs rolling in again. I’m not going to starve over one slow week.

But for whatever reason, my brain has latched onto this as proof that I suck. Clearly, I’m not as good at this job as I thought I was. Clearly, I was relaxing too soon and this is my punishment for letting myself get comfortable. Clearly, the only reasonable thing to do is panic and spend my nights nursing stress-stomachaches and frantically hunting job boards instead of writing or sleeping.

I know this is crazy and counterproductive. I know the best thing to do is to take advantage of the extra free time to be productive, and maybe apply for a few jobs/freelance gigs that I’m actually excited about, rather than frantically going after ALL THE THINGS. But this week, the crazy part of my brain has been working overtime, and the rational half is getting its ass kicked.

I haven’t felt like writing the next post in my “openness” series while in panic-mode, so I haven’t written at all.  This is silly. I need to stop coming up with rules for what I “have to” write next, because it’s just making me beat myself up instead of doing stuff.

So yea… that’s what’s up with me. I’ll be fine… I’m taking care of myself, doing lots of yoga and indulging in some books by a favorite childhood author to escape. The storm will pass, and soon enough I’ll be back up to my eyeballs in students and complaining again about how many times I’ve taught the same geometry concept in a week. And I’ll have more interesting things to say here soon.

8 thoughts on “Confession time: paralyzed by anxiety

  1. Anyone who can successfully channel an increase in free time into an increase in production deserves a gold star. That’s one of those tasks which is always way harder than we think it’s going to be/should be.

  2. “But for whatever reason, my brain has latched onto this as proof that I suck. Clearly, I’m not as good at this job as I thought I was.” I’m sure you’ve been a great tutor so far, having no new sign ups for this week is in no way an indication of your abilties as a tutor. If you are a great tutor it cant be you who are chasing them away, but rather some other seemingly random details which you have no power over. So let me restate, a slow week is not an indication of you being horrible at your job. 🙂

  3. I often have trouble catching the low-level thoughts that contradict all my carefully rational, self-accepting reasoning. Without my permission, part of me is running through the entire fire drill of anxiety and irrational self-blame, and this is controlling my mood. I can’t always break into that process and stop it, but if I feel much worse than my conscious reasoning can justify, this is usually the reason.

    1. Yup, that describes it perfectly. The undercurrents of self-hatred have been dreadfully strong of late, but I’m still keeping my head above water mostly, for now.

  4. Isn’t it amazing how we constantly look for (and then find) evidence that we’re not good enough? Setbacks are such snarky little bitches… trying to convince us of false impending failure… don’t listen to it for a second! You are right. There are ups and downs in the business, and you will be back on top in no time. Ride it out, remember that you are a shining star (regardless of whether or not you are a successful tutor), and don’t let the snarky bitch win.

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