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Graduate teacher terrified and doing it anyway!

Community Member

Hello all,


I just wanted to share my feelings in a safe space with people I feel would understand them. I'm a recent graduate who took on my first teaching position this year and have spent most of term 1 off due to unexpected struggles with my physical and mental health. I had to take a 2 year break from study to focus on getting help with my mental health (I have CPTSD, ADHD, depression and anxiety) and it helped me finally develop self-compassion and stop believing I'm unlovable. I was really excited to start this job despite knowing it was going to be hard (it's a tough to staff secondary school, I'm primary trained, it involved a big move to a new place away from family/friends etc.) but I got COVID in week 2 and that totally threw me off! I tried going back to work before I was really recovered and gave myself lots of evidence that I couldn't teach so I got really hard on myself and took some huge steps back in my recovery. My mental health care team came together brilliantly, made me take the last 5 weeks off and helped me reflect on what was going on in my head. I'm feeling much more like myself again and back to being excited but I've got a lot to catch up on and the imposter syndrome/perfectionism are still there. The truth is, as much as I'm excited to have another go and have been more open and honest about needing support from my coworkers - I'm also terrified!

I'm not letting the fear stop me from trying this time, but it's there. I haven't mentioned that to my coworkers because I don't want them to assume I'm not ready or wanting to return, but the part of me that cares so much about succeeding I'm willing to stop myself from attempting it to make sure there's not risk of failure needs to be heard! 

I am so so scared that it won't go well, I know it's going to be hard and I know the learning curve will be steep. I'm also determined to do it anyway and refuse to give up on myself after how hard I've worked to get to this point. If anyone else out there is confronting the terror that it making your dream a reality, know that you're not alone.

6 Replies 6

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear Trying_to_fail_better


I love your user name (I think I am trying to fail better too!). I also want to say well done for graduating with your teaching qualification with the challenges you've been through.


I relate to your story. I've been dealing with processing complex trauma, grief, health issues etc. I'm trying to find my way back into the workforce as I was out for quite a while caring for family members while trying to study.


I'm so glad you have the supportive mental health care team. What you will bring to teaching is already going to include a lot of wisdom and compassion as a human being. With what you have been through you are going to have insights into the kids that will make you a wiser teacher. That's something you can view as a strength and that will hopefully give you a sense of worth, empowerment and greater confidence. I think those of us who have been through complex trauma often doubt ourselves and have perfectionist tendencies, like we have to work exceptionally hard to be worthy and approved of. And yet I am quite sure that right now you are more than worthy.


I guess one thing to look out for is fatigue and overwhelm, which can happen more easily with the CPTSD etc. One thing is balancing out the work day with peaceful activities that really bring you balance and fulfilment, making sure that self-care is a priority. Another might be looking at your hours and whether full-time is manageable, which it may well be with the right support. But if it does get a bit too much then it is ok to recognise that and then look at ways you can possibly have reduced hours or job share etc. But initially you could see how you go with the support of your mental health team and self-care and it may work out just fine.


You have your determination and spirit and that is hugely encouraging. As corny as it sounds, I think it may be a case of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. You can only see how you go and you have already had great courage to survive many personal challenges and to get where you are today. I really admire your tenacity and I feel like you have much to bring to teaching. If you can settle into that deeper wisdom you have from life experience, a lot of that can intuitively guide you to being a good teacher. I really get and relate to the fear you describe, but I also sense your courage and spiritedness, which are awesome attributes!

Dear Eagle Ray


Thank you so much for your response, it brought happy tears to my eyes and my heart felt too big for my chest for a second there. I really appreciate you pointing out how my struggles can actually be strengths. I'd mainly been looking at my situation as 'I will be a good teacher one day despite my experiences' and you've helped me switch that 'despite' to 'because of'. 



You've also helped me realise that I really wasn't seeing reducing my load as an option. I know I tend to fall into black and white thinking and will still try my best to see how I go with a full load this term but I'll keep that in mind as an option if I do find myself overwhelmed. The school has indicated they would be happy to support me doing something like that and it will help prevent me from assuming I just can't do the job if I do find myself struggling. You've been a great help!

Oh I’m really glad that helped. That makes me happy. I feel that being a good teacher is not just knowing about the subjects you teach, but it involves human insight, wisdom and emotional intelligence. And when you’ve been through significant life challenges those are the kinds of qualities you have deeper connection with. You can bring real compassion to teaching just as you are learning to do with self-compassion.


I can relate somewhat as I’ve worked as an education assistant previously and it’s one of my options as I look to return to work. I’d lost so much confidence after things I’ve been through in the last few years. I was doubting my capacity to work with kids again when I was still feeling broken. But as I begin to heal and develop self-compassion I can now see it as a viable possibility, and I think I’ll be better at it because of the challenges I’ve been through.


So I just wanted to encourage you as I’m trying to encourage myself. And, yes, there are often ways to manage work through reduced hours etc if necessary. It feels like you are on the right track!

I think you'll be a wonderful EA! You're certainly right that the wisdom and compassion you've had to develop will make a huge difference in that career. I hope we can continue to inspire each other! I'm letting myself have a relatively relaxing day today but have a lot of marking and planning I'll need to start and keep working on over most of the holidays from tomorrow. I'm nervous and worried I won't get it all done in time/to the standard I'd like to but I'll do my best to chunk it until it's achievable and reach out for support if I get to Wednesday and still feel overwhelmed. Working in education is hard but I believe in us!

Yes, just do the best you can with the marking. Chunking it sounds like a good idea. I’m trying to do that with tasks in general. It’s great you are letting yourself have a relaxing day today. Yes, I believe in us and hope we can keep inspiring each other too!

Community Member

Dear Trying to fail better,


Thank you so much for your inspiring post. You have no idea how your words have resonated with me, as I face a challenge similar to yours. You have given me hope.


You will be an amazing teacher with compassion and understanding.


I wish you endless success in your new role. You have got this and thank you again so much.