I brought my same bad habits to my new work. I’ve been tutoring online and in person since the summer, because I wanted to have some way to contribute to household expenses as well as have purposeful work to do each day.
It’s been going okay. But it’s definitely not what I thought it would be. People have cancelled or rescheduled on me at the last minute all the time. And I’ve had to accommodate people on another day or time and I’ve ended up booking myself up for hours and hours at a time—sometimes without a break. I hate saying no to people, even when I should. I want to be there for them, and I admit, a not-small part of me worries about letting them down and getting a low rating.
Ratings absolutely stress me out. Most people don’t leave them, but of course, if they do they’re either great or awful. I have one terrible rating from a girl who barely paid attention before leaving really early during our first (and last) lesson. That one rating prompted a panic attack that sent me in to a frenzy signing up for all the tutoring opportunities I could to ensure I wouldn’t lose out on any opportunity while I had them.
I did this from a place of fear, instead of thinking about the balance of tutoring commitments I had and wanted to have in the future. I overloaded myself. And then I accepted schedule changes and additions that led me to have a fully booked and overwhelming schedule.
I was so tired that I took half hour naps instead of eating. My anxiety spun out. I stopped working out, because when I did have free time I went to medical appointments that left me tired and sore. I should have taken more anti-anxiety medicine, but I worried about running out of it and really needing it. However, that was one of those times that I really needed it.
And at the same time, I still tried to do everything. I never cancelled on anyone or rescheduled anyone. I hate letting anyone down and I’ve never liked accepting I have limitations. And, although I hardly ever charge anyone for late rescheduling or cancellation, I worry about what they’ll think if I do it.
I worried about all these things instead of taking care of myself. I was miserable not having time or energy to write or cook or work out. But I did it. I felt that I couldn’t complain, because some days I only had one or two sessions. However, this meant that I never had any full day off to sleep in, read, nap, and relax.
I was just so scared that I wasn’t working enough. I thought I had to fulfill a certain number of official hours to be productive. I discounted all the prep, the scheduling, and the invoicing I was doing. I’m not getting paid for most of that, so although I would argue with anyone else who would imply it, part of me believed it wasn’t “work.”
I burned out last week. I finally accepted that I needed to stop taking on new students and leave more gaps in my schedule to accommodate the last-minute sessions. I officially updated my main account to no longer take new students.
I took all of yesterday completely off. I slept and read a new book. I worked out and watched a movie with my husband. I answered the bare minimum of email and texts. It was pretty ordinary and absolutely wonderful.
I also thought about how I always do this. I get to a point where I’m barely hanging on, but I am. I do because I’m afraid not to. I don’t want to let myself, my husband, or anyone else down, by not being this version of myself that I believe I need to be. I don’t want to set limits and then I have them set for me. This time I caught it before I went too far, but I should have caught it earlier and set a better balance.
And honestly, I don’t think I’ll be doing this kind of gig work for long, if I can. It’s too stressful to have a constantly changing and unpredictable schedule. I’m also too introverted to be constantly performing for a different audience. I do like the chance to keep teaching, but this is not the right way for me. I’ll have to go back to the drawing board and rethink what I’m going to do next.