Be yourself

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‘Be yourself everyone else is already taken’ Oscar Wilde

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be yourself. I often comment that I am not feeling myself today, but what do I mean when I say that?

I think sometimes we have this idea that there are people who don’t care what people think of them, experience complete freedom in thought, word and deed, never experience anxiety or worry. This idea that there are people who can go through life, day by day, unaffected by the comments of others or their own analysis of situations.

I think this is a myth.

Deep down, we do care about others opinions of us, despite our protestations to the contrary. We are relational beings, as much as we may strive for independence and to do it all alone. We can’t.
We need other people, each other, relationship.

The thing is, because of this need for relationship we often spend our time trying to craft ourselves into the person we think others want us to be. We have a created ideal.

I need to appear strong, not too needy. I shouldn’t talk about myself too much and make sure I listen. I mustn’t appear too grumpy or angry, but on the overhand, I need to ensure I am not overly emotional. Being classified as emotional is close to be written off in our strange, created ideal.

Where do these ideals come from and why do we insist on maintaining them? Why do we have a natural bent towards criticism rather than encouragement? Judgement rather than grace? Fault finding rather than recognition of strength?

We need to start with ourselves, accepting who we are, what being ourselves means for us.

So I am going to tell you who I am, what being myself is for me.

I am emotional. I have highs and lows. In the highs, I experience euphoria and am able to take on most things that are thrown on me, I can give and give and give and feel no effect. In the lows, I feel lethargic, begin to second guess everything and everyone. I misread situations and withdraw.

I experience stress, anger and frustration. I can be very vocal about how I am feeling and my default expression of emotion is tears. When I am happy, sad, angry, frustrated, tired, I cry.

I love to spend time with people, but I can be affected by the moods and attitudes of others. I worry about what people think, my appearance, finances, health and the future.

I expect the best of myself all of the time and will often beat myself up about the slightest of errors. If I speak out of turn, I replay the moment continuously and cringe at my behaviour.

I giggle a lot, sing at every opportunity and find any opportunity I can to smile.

The authentic me is the person I have described above. I don’t think she sounds too bad actually.

What about the authentic you? What does being yourself mean for you?
Leave a comment, tell me who you are, let’s start destroying the myth and start enjoying being ourselves.

And so it begins… again

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So, tomorrow a new term begins. After having a week off, I now go back to being a teacher. It is strange how much changes when work starts up again. I already know what I am teaching and when up until Christmas, I have a meeting schedule running through my brain and Parents’ evening on the horizon.

It would be a lie to say I am not a little apprehensive. We are on Ofsted standby, we have a Christmas production to film, I already know we are short staffed tomorrow. I also have my hospital appointment which means I am nil by mouth from 7am tomorrow.

I am looking forward to seeing the students again. You see, it may sound trite or cheesy but for me my job (vocation) is all about the students. I have a holistic approach to my teaching, one that was at times frowned upon as I was not solely driven by targets.

Being senior teacher, a large percentage of my week is spent listening, listening to students in crisis, listening to their complaints, listening to their fears. It is one of my favourite parts of my job. I have been criticised for having too much of a ‘milk and cookies’ approach and not being punitive enough. I will take that. I am not a soft touch, I have high expectations of the students my approach is just different and it works for me. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach in teaching, your personality plays a large part.

I spent a lot of my life adapting and changing to fit into what people wanted of me. I am no longer prepared to do that.

Criticism is a large part of teaching, when I did my PGCE my tutor said I was ‘too emotional to be a teacher.’ I have no idea what he meant, I took it as a statement to rail against.

You can have a heart and be a teacher, in fact, I would argue you can’t be a teacher without heart.

Tomorrow, the journey begins once again. I will say this evening, that I am going to have more of a work/life balance this half term, that I won’t work until 9pm every night, that I won’t get burdened by the grumbles and complaints, that I won’t answer emails at 11pm but I know deep down that I will struggle. Being a teacher is 24/7.

So to all of my fellow educationalists, here’s to a new term. Let’s make the best of it. Let’s enjoy it more, but most of all let’s support each other.

‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just in fact as you are doing.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I would appreciate your prayers for my hospital appointment ūüôā

Encourage

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Thursday night, I am usually shattered, ready for an early night, wanting to hide myself away from the world. We all feel this way at times.

Instead, I host up to 12 people at my house for life group, we meet  to chat, worship, pray and discuss. I meet with a group of friends, who feel like family to talk about what I am struggling  with, what is going well, what I want to do.

Their love, support and prayer enables me to cope in the difficult times, to enjoy the happy times, to cry in the miserable times and to maintain my hope.

Let’s face it life is hard, being a Christian is a challenging.

I am a Christian, that doesn’t mean I am perfect, it certainly doesn’t make me better than anyone else and it doesn’t mean I have it all together.

Each Thursday, I am encouraged to let go of the masks we so often wear, to be open, honest and vulnerable, to be the real me. The me I was created to be.

This should be scary but it allows me to be free.

We all need the opportunity to share and be listened to, to tell our story. To be honest about who we are and where we are at.

Encouragement is so important, it is something that is often lacking in our day to day lives. We need to do it more. We need to look after each other.

‘So encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.’ ¬†1¬†Thessalonians¬†5:11

What do you think about encouragement?

When were you last encouraged?

When did you last encourage others?