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A Reflection on Setting Boundaries

The month was January and the year was 2020. I was 25 and in my third year of teaching. It was a time where my routine consisted of waking up, driving to work, teaching my fourth grade class, coming home to work more on teacher-related tasks, and then sleeping, all to live the same routine the next day and the next. I always found myself saying “yes” to any work-related task thrown at me, or dropping anything I was doing to support someone else’s needs. The idea of a “work-life balance” was nowhere near on the horizon. I was in my third year of teaching, already on the edge of "teacher burnout." I was feeling depressed, would become anxious regularly, and had not yet learned how to set healthy boundaries.

I always thought setting boundaries would make me appear as a selfish and uncooperative person. I would give reasons for why I did not want to attend social gatherings instead of just saying, “no, I’m not available”, which would lead to more questions or advice that I was not seeking. I would arrive at school 30-45 minutes before my contract time and regularly leave around dinner time hours. I would use my recess and lunch breaks to answer emails, prepare for afternoon lessons, or grade assignments. I ultimately felt guilty if I was not using my time or energy for someone or something else. I would take on the emotions and problems of others making them my own out of empathy and worry for the person. All in all, I created and experienced a toxic working environment that left me constantly feeling agitated, on edge, and defeated. I knew I needed to stand up for myself and set boundaries that would alleviate interactions and minimize the conversations. Yet, the environment still had power over me, dominating my feelings, dictating the meaning of my words, and making me feel inadequate as a teacher. All of this weighed heavily on me. I did not know how to set the boundaries needed to protect my well-being physically, mentally, and most significantly, emotionally. The stress and anxiety continued to build.

During this month of January, I happened to meet the kindest and most patient man through an online dating website. Not only did this man eventually become my husband in March of 2022, he also became the person that supported me in becoming my own biggest advocate. Ultimately, he gave the biggest piece of advice I did not want to hear, but ultimately needed to hear for my own well-being and mental health. He taught me the importance of setting boundaries. Through our many conversations, all while the toxic experiences still occurred in the background, I began to realize that I did indeed have control over how I let people in. It was so important to set boundaries that would eventually help me find more of a work-life balance.

Now, eventually March 2020 came around and right before our eyes we were living in what seemed like a different time. My school, with much persistence, time, and effort, was able to turn around and provide distance learning for our students within days. This halted the progress I wanted to continue as everyone was running on full adrenaline to finish the school year on a strong note. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and a time of great uncertainty. In full transparency, it was not until during my fourth and fifth years of teaching where I was finally able to make true personal growth in this area of my life. It required time, patience, mistakes, and perseverance along the journey.

Overtime, I felt more in control of how I spent my time and where I would let my heart and mind wander off to. My now husband consistently reminded me that even though I absolutely loved teaching, it did not need to become my whole identity. I did not always need to bring home the stresses of work home with me. If I did not have the time to socialize, or simply did not wish to socialize with people who added to my anxiety, all I needed to say was “no.” I did not owe anyone a reason or explanation for the choices I was making. This gave me back the power and advocacy I needed to protect and nurture my heart and soul.

Morgan Elizabeth


setting boundaries

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My faith in Christ. Being a supportive wife. Educating the hearts and minds of children. These are my callings. I am so excited to share my journey, my inspirations, and my current projects in one place. 

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