Requiem for my yesterday

Having been working as an English teacher in Russia for a month now, I feel that I am more or less used to my routine at university. My timetable of work is pretty busy, and it turns out that it is quite hard to juggle this work : life ratio that I’ve heard people so often speak of. I have 12 teaching hours a week, completely manageable. 12 hours. I’ve now started my own classes, 2 Russian lessons a week and one French = 6 hours. So we are up to 18 hours of lessons. I also give private tuition to a couple of people, that’s another 4 hours. Okay, 22 hours. I have started doing some editing work, recently having corrected a 9000-word physics paper. 4hours. And what about all the preparation? That has to take up the most time. 1-2 hours prep per class, my own homework tasks for Russian and French, lessons plans that cater for different levels of English… It adds up so fast, and that 12 hours doubles or triples in no time.

I’m not complaining. It’s not a 40-hour week or anything. But how do people do it? I seem to be still very much in that in-between stage of having just left student life and am in the process of coming to terms with the real world. I’m not ready to give up my own personal goals and interests, but they do get pushed aside in the name of work. At the weekend, when I am determined to have some free time, to explore the city, to go out with friends, to forget about teaching and work responsibilities, I end up getting behind with my work. Come Monday I find myself with a growing to-do list and a backlog of tasks that probably could have been before.

How to reconcile the necessity of work with the desire to live your own life. The obvious answer is perhaps not to make the two entirely different entities, but to find a job that is fulfilling and that you enjoy. I’m not sure if teaching is my vocation. It makes me anxious everyday. Then again, such leisurely pastimes as reading or drawing now too make me anxious, those time-consuming activities that accomplish very little other than your own development. How much time should you give yourself, and can it ever be the same as the time you give to others? I would like to focus on doing things that I enjoy, and doing things that I hope I will be able to enjoy in some professional capacity in the future, namely when it comes to writing. My to-do list grows ever longer, and I don’t know how to order it. Work or life.

Ultimately, I wonder if anyone else even thinks about this. Everyone else, at least, seems to have it figured out. I’ve never been very good at time management. Oh, free time; the impossible dream of a generation lost to money woes and expectation.


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