Finding Your Authentic Self (After a Long School Year)

Oh hey, I remember you!

authentic self

Being your authentic self means being rooted in the values, beliefs, and truths that mean the most to you, and living a life that’s a genuine reflection of them. It means finding answers within by listening to your own voice, rather than searching for them outside of yourself.

And that’s really hard to do when you spend your days in the chaos and clamor of a classroom filled with squirmy, chatty, busy, little (or not so little) people.

Summer break is the perfect time to leave behind the often overwhelming demands of the school year and check in to make sure you’re still there underneath all those layers of labels—teacher, co-worker, employee, mentor, advisor, parent, partner, and caregiver.

Here are 10 suggestions to help you slow down, quiet the noise, and reconnect with your authentic self.

1. Shift into low gear.

Just like a marathon runner takes a cool down lap, slow your pace and allow your system to wind down. By the end of the school year, most teachers are overworked, overstimulated, and just plain exhausted. Put away in the interminable to-do lists and let your body recalibrate to a calmer rhythm.

2. Celebrate your success.

Reflect on all the positive things that have happened this school year; all the children whose lives you affected, all the learning you facilitated, the new things you discovered, and connections you made. Focus on your strengths and be proud of the work you’ve done.

3. Let go of the rest.

If you find yourself disappointed by mistakes you’ve made or areas where you’ve fallen short, acknowledge them briefly and let them go. You’re human and you’re doing the best you can, so forgive yourself and move on. Use what you’ve learned to set an intention to do an even better job next year.  

4. Be still.

Dedicate a few minutes each day to doing absolutely nothing. It’s amazing how calming it is to just close your eyes and breathe. Try to focus only on the present moment and allow your thoughts to float in and out without getting attached to them. Consider adding a meditation practice to your life. A great introductory one to try is Take Ten by Headspace.

5. Listen.

Sometimes as teachers it feels like we talk, talk, talk all day. In summer we don’t have to be the ones giving directions or answering questions. Being quiet gives us the opportunity to hear life going on around us. Listen closely to the sound of the sprinkler, the hum of a fan, or the drip of the coffeemaker. Tune into a cool nature soundtrack and zero in on the individual sounds.

6. Move your body.

Try as we might, it’s really hard to keep a regular fitness regimen going during the school year. Get back in the routine this summer and reconnect with your body. Enjoy the physical sensations of building up your strength and endurance.  

7. Remember who you are and what you love.

Put aside taking care of everyone else and reacquaint yourself with who you are and what makes you happy. Pull out those scrapbook supplies, take a spin on your bike, window shop along your favorite avenue, or do whatever it is that makes your heart sing. Check out our free printable self-care calendar for ideas.

8. Connect with your people.

During the school year, it’s hard to connect with friends and family as often as we’d like. Use this time off to fill up your love tank by spending lots of time with your favorite people.

9. Crack yourself up.

Nothing resets your nervous system like a good laugh. Watch a funny video, call that hilarious friend, or goof around with your Snapchat filters. Have a good belly laugh and see how much better you feel.

10. Spend time in nature.

There is no overstating the curative power of the outdoors. Take a hike in the woods, spend a day at the beach or just lay in the grass and look up at the clouds. Soak up the fresh air, notice the vibrant colors and pungent smells of the earth around you. Get lost in the majesty of nature to find your authentic self. 

How do you reconnect with your authentic self? Add your suggestions to the comments below.

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, hearing people's stories and traveling the globe.

One Comment

  1. I talk to more teachers! It’s more effective listening to the trials and tribulations of your peers to learn and grow together!

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