It's a time of winding down: the year, the semester, various projects, and so on. A time of endings.

I'm not very good at endings. I'm not really good at beginnings, either, now that I think of it: I often have trouble finding my groove, getting beyond all the communication issues and unexpected glitches that tend to plague the early stages of just about everything. It takes me a while to feel comfortable in new situations, with new people, lower my guard and relax and start enjoying the process instead of looking out for pitfalls or focusing on my own awkwardness and shortcomings.

I think I'm pretty solid once I get to the middle of things. I eventually find my flow, am able to express myself, I've figured out the lay of the land, and can have fun. Endings involve pressure and stress and the fear of having forgotten something crucial, of not living up to expectations, of being found out as fallible if I've managed to project an air of cool nonchalance and competency up until that point. And if the middle is really good, the ending makes me sad, so sometimes there's procrastination, denial, fear of what comes next.

Basically I'm like a walking bell curve, full and happy in the middle, but stretched taut at either extremity.

This year has seen a lot of beginnings, and because of the way the world works, that means there have also been endings, or endings that are happening now. For example, last year I proposed a new course that was approved, and I'm finishing up the first semester of teaching it. I've loved a lot of things about this class--which was, after all, my very own baby--but it's also been an incredible amount of work. That's another thing about beginnings: they require an intensity of time and effort that may or may not pay off. There's always an element of uncertainty, which is part of the excitement, but also adds to the stress. You don't know until the middle, if you're lucky, or the end, or even after the end is past. In the case of this course, I think it's paid off. I'll get a chance to teach it again in the spring, although it's going to require a fair amount of tweaking, not least because I'm going to have more than twice the number of students. But it's nice to have the chance to do it over, and watch it grow into something (hopefully) better.

Not all new things are so lucky.

Next semester, I've got yet another new course to develop from scratch, in addition to the second round of this one. More stress, more uncertainty, more work, all with no guarantee of success. But then, if I wanted guarantees, I'd be... a different person. I'm cautious to a degree, but ultimately I'm a bit of a risk taker, at least relatively speaking. So I'm looking forward to the challenge, even as part of me longs for a bit more stability. Fewer new beginnings, more relaxed middles, and most of all, fewer endings.

(Doesn't mean I'm not thrilled the semester is nearly over, though. I'm not made of stone!)