By Katherine Wang
The opinions expressed are not representative of City Year or Americorps as organizations.
Self-care has been on the forefront of my mind for years. I can’t let taking care of myself go to the bottom of my priorities, and it’s been especially relevant this year, as I began working full-time as a City Year AmeriCorps Member. From 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM every day, I am “on.” In the morning I get to work with sixth-graders in their math class, and throughout the day I need to be vigilant during lunch, recess, and hallway transitions to ensure that things go smoothly. Right after dismissal, I co-facilitate afterschool for a group of 20 third- and fourth-graders. I am exhausted at the end of each day (and have a glimpse into the reality of “teacher burnout”) from being exposed to such a stimulating environment for 10 hours, but the work I do is equally rewarding as it is draining. I get to watch my students’ confidence grow, work with a team, and learn about myself. A large part of recognizing the rewards comes from taking care of myself.
From a distance, I may seem like the quintessential “self-care expert”: I practice yoga, write in a journal, and I love talking about my feelings. The kind of self-care that working at City Year requires of me is very different from the self-care I practiced for my entire high school career. And I didn’t get to realize this until very recently, since my job has demanded me of things that high school did not.