This study examined tensions encountered by 182 beginning teachers during their professional identity development, the feelings that accompanied these tensions and the ways they tried to cope with these. Professional identity tensions stem from an unbalanced personal and professional side of (becoming) a teacher. Tensions that are often mentioned by beginning teachers concerned conflicts between what they desire and what is possible in reality. Female teachers reported more tensions than their male colleagues, while final-year student teachers did not differ from first-year in-practice teachers in the number of tensions they experienced. Tensions were often accompanied by feelings of helplessness, anger or an awareness of shortcomings. Most beginning teachers tried to cope with their tensions by speaking to their significant others or by searching for a solution themselves. Insights into professional identity tensions experienced by beginning teachers are important in order to form a better understanding of the support they need.