If I ask you what you’re crap at, I imagine you can give me a list. You can add it to my high tech, evidenced-based crap-o-meter if you like.
Exercise, not spending time with the kids, saying things I regret to students, spreading myself too thinly … the list goes on.
But what about your strengths? Would you answer in a different way? Would you make a joke or be self-deprecating? ‘Let’s try turning to your colleague and telling me about what they’re good at’.
These were some of the exercises I tried at the Dorchester Area School Partnership TA training day on Wellbeing. There were some lovely answers about colleagues:
‘She is the voice of reason and calms us all down’.
‘She always finds time to listen to our concerns’.
Rephrasing the question about people’s skills can help – what has recently surprised you about yourself? Or tell me about a resource you changed which worked really well for a pupil.
But what if we strive for perfection? Can it make us do nothing? Perhaps we are so worried about not getting it right that we stay in our comfort zone which, if we’re happy about is fine, but does it create a lack of contentment? Are we happy to take risks and fail?
Wellbeing, I’ve realised, is as much to do with creating a life you don’t need to escape from at weekends and in the holidays as it is a spa day or a yoga session. It is also being happy with ‘good enough’ and as Sheryl Sandberg says in ‘Lean In’:
Done is better than perfect.
Is our guilt and self-blame keeping us from living the life we want to live? Embracing imperfection may help reduce the feeling of crapness and as Brené Brown reminds us:
Imperfections are not inadequacies, they are a reminder that we are all in this together.
So as we look forward to half term, be kind to yourself, remind you of your worth and while it is nice to have external praise and positive feedback from others, give it for yourself too. In schools (and I think particularly for TAs), work can go unrecognised and unrewarded so it is important that you can give yourself a pat on the back and also attempt to plan out a life for yourself that you want and don’t feel crap about. But perhaps nothing needs to change other than your expectations of yourself?
Enjoy, have fun and be content. Easier said than done I know, but don’t beat yourself up. Are you actually crap? Or just feeling it? Would you describe a friend in the same way? I’m going to take a bet that you’re not and by embracing your imperfections and shifting your perception, you could feel on top of the world.
Enjoy half term and thanks to my previous school, Thomas Hardye School and employer, Tim Ennion from the Dorset Teaching School Alliance for welcoming me back, it’s always a pleasure and nourishing seeing old colleagues.