In Progress: Approval (3)

Instead of recounting different days from my journal I wanted to summarise the running theme through this week. Last week, I was the new girl. My entries focused on settling into a rhythm and routine; it was nerve-wracking, vomit inducing and exhausting. This week, I wrote a lot about success, self-doubt and seeking approval.

It is no surprise I recently began writing regularly again and to all but me, this is no big deal. I stopped writing aged sixteen. I rarely wrote again unless it was a blog post or message in a card. Poems and journal entries were scarce. I have some idea as to why this happened, which isn’t relevant here.

Coming back to writing now, at a time where the best way to share is online has certainly changed the way I feel about writing. Before, it was a very private affair, less so now which brings this week’s topic into play – approval. For weeks I have been toying with the idea of entering competitions; as it stands I have entered only two – one a poem, the second a short story. Admittedly, when I read past entries and even others on WordPress I am aware of being out of my depth. However, poetry is also up to interpretation so I must at least give it a go. This desire to give it a go brought in to perspective two things: where we seek our approval from and when self doubt appears.

I also fluctuated in my belief in my capabilities as a teacher this week, as in any profession I am sure we all do at some point. Someone complains, something doesn’t work or you just do not achieve the results you had planned for. In my reflective state on a lazy Saturday afternoon I have learnt two things.

First of all, I thought I had always been driven by winning. I have always sought approval be it from a parent, friend or teacher. Especially now, when popularity is sign posted with followers, likes and monetised content. I wrote recently about feeling stifled by writing for a purpose. Thus, I decided I would only attempt competitions if I felt like I had something to say and submit, much like why I even write in the first place. There is no set time I sit down and write. Before, I sought approval because I was not getting it from myself. I was not sure of myself and therefore needed others to tell me, however, when you do something out of enjoyment, it doesn’t matter. Of course, I love to hear people’s feedback and know if they enjoy what I’ve created. That said, over this week I realised recording words, thoughts and finally finding a place for the lone sentence you’ve been mulling over for hours, hands wrinkling in the washing up bowl, is underrated. I write for enjoyment, not for consumption or for approval. The lesson here is, if you truly enjoy something – winning and approval should become periphery. Otherwise, reassess why you are doing something and if you are happy.

Secondly, I tackled self-doubt head on this week. Validation of our to-do lists, choices and performance is almost ingrained in our very being. I do not believe society made us this way, I think we always have been this way – I mean, Caesar needed it. Results remind us we are moving forward; we’re not stagnant pools or at least cannot stand, standing still. So when we feel as if we are stationery or ‘failing’, doubt creeps up on us. Of course, it will always pass but in my experience it always takes some kind of success to shift it. What I think makes some people so good at tackling self-doubt is by changing what they see ‘success’ as. For example, my Year 9 class struggled this week and I had to overhaul the lessons I had planned for them over the next week or so and move their assessment. I was gutted I hadn’t noticed earlier they were struggling. Cue self doubt. Yet, the next day my Year 7’s had a brilliant lesson where they peer-taught each other and produced some excellent work. The success was not with the Year 9 class but it was enough to remind me we all have moments of returning to the drawing board. This success could have been even smaller, it could have been showering or greeting someone in the morning you usually ignore. Riding the wave of success is exhilarating, I just need to remember they’re not always tidal, sometimes they lap quietly at the shore and feel just as good all the same.

That’s me this week, I hope if you’ve felt a moment of desperation or doubt you find success somewhere soon, no matter how big or small.

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