Give yourself a mental ‘Valentine’

People put a lot of focus on Motivation Monday but today is Tuesday and I am struggling, at least struggling more than normal. I walked through the park this morning listening to the birds and noticing the many signs of spring, from blossoms to flowers, trying to calm my sense of panic and the blackness threatening to engulf. I was going to pour these feelings out into my blog in an attempt to be cathartic but decided it would just come across as an act of self-pity. Then this tweet caught my eye: “A Valentine’s message for children: start by loving yourself“.

I normally ignore Valentine’s Day as an overly commercialised day in the calendar. However, this article caught my eye as a parent and a learner. I tread this complicated and delicate balance beam every day. Ensuring that I am building their confidence without inadvertently instilling arrogance, ensuring that each perceives they are being treated equally (this one seems to be a loss no matter how hard you try). Embedding the need to be respectful whilst ensuring they are confident enough to stand up and voice opinion. All this because I know how important self-belief is and the need to nurture it from an early age.

So where along the line did my self-belief get sucked into a black hole, as I am sure that as a child I felt that I could achieve anything I set my mind to? Yet, it is something more than thinking I can’t achieve things. That sentence seems to indicate imposter syndrome leanings but that isn’t the whole picture. It is a feeling of being behind, not where I should be at this stage of my life, others much younger are so much further ahead. So instead of feeling as if I am in the wrong place, I feel I am at the back of a race that no matter how fast I try to run or how much training I am doing, I never get to cross the finish line.

As an educator I know, even as I write it, that finishing, never mind winning the race, is not the goal. Learning is a life-long commitment and the race analogy that circles my head is ridiculous when I know full well that a garden metaphor is more fitting. A gardener rarely gets a chance to sit back and think the work is done and they can now just relax and stop gardening.

So today I will stop beating myself up and not let exhaustion take control, today I will give myself and you a mental Valentine: stop, reflect and acknowledge your achievements – do not focus on what hasn’t (yet) been achieved. Crucially, I need to use my 2017 to-do-list as inspiration not a stick with which to beat myself and to value my wonderful support community.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, you have got this…

Irises blooming early in a sunny, protected spot



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