It’s funny how being faced with an interview or CV update makes you look at yourself and the ‘story’ of your life objectively.
A friend of mine insisted that I am eligible for an application I wouldn’t have believed myself a candidate for. As she went on to explain all the ways in which she thinks I am perfect for the role, she wrote a story of me and my life that I absolutely had not had the vantage point to see.
I see only the absences. What she was saying had so much more form and structure and positivity than I see. I am only familiar with a drifting, shapeless failure with ever-widening gaps.
We all like to be flattered of course and that was what she was doing. But in the eyes of another we see ourselves. I’ve just read Rachel Cusk’s ‘Outline’ with perfect timing for this new Outline of myself. Although the gaps I berate myself with are painfully present in their absences, I can now see that an alternative story might be written. It is not just through the eyes of friends we see ourselves, but the eyes of children, strangers, animals, even landscapes. Positivity and perceptibility are needed to give shape to otherwise empty spaces.
I ate my lunch in the Learning Lab at school today and read the motivational classroom display:
Change Your Frame of Mind.
‘I’m rubbish at this’ > ‘What can I do to improve?’
‘I can’t get it right’ > ‘Mistakes mean I’m learning by trying.’
‘That’ll do’ > ‘How can I do better?’
I understand that how we feel about ourselves, our failures, each event, big or small, comes down to attitude or frame of mind. That’s what we’re trying to teach our young people.
It’s just so much easier said than done.
Lucy hugged me mid-class on Wednesday. I was crouching on my haunches behind her classmate, supporting his learning and for no reason she got out of her chair, came to me, put her arms around me and nestled her face into my neck. “You’re my favourite” she told me quietly. I could cry.
It was like a blessing. As magical as a songbird choosing to land on me for a moment. Like being filled with a golden light, totally out of the blue and totally without warning.
All these gaps and regrets and worries regarding the trajectory of my life, when life is really moments like these.
(Also, there really is no protecting oneself from the risks of a pandemic in Primary education).