Can it really only have been two weeks ago that I sat in (a pub) on a Sunday evening and thanked the heavens that it was Christmas? A time to relax. A time to unwind. A time to be thankful for all that I have.
Yet all too soon it is 2014 (yes, 2014!) and time to return to work, back to reality. How blessed we are to work in a profession where we will be greeted by (mostly) enthusastic kids and are lucky to be able to genuinely say that we love our job. I have high hopes for the coming weeks and months. I really do think that this could be a great term for my class, and for me. Yet I also know that there will be those in the profession who will be dreading the return to school for whatever reasons and there will be those who will struggle at various points between now and summer. I hope that they find this, and it brings them hope.
Over the break I came across this. It is not new, nor is it mine in any way. I have always respected Stephen Fry greatly, yet my admiration for him grew greater as I read this. Having suffered through depression, Stephen received a letter from somebody seeking advice on the issue. His reply was both heart breaking and reassuring. I read it with my teachers hat on, and thought about how intense school life can be during terms and how we often blow problems up to be huge issues. We sweat the small stuff, and some times teaching is damned hard: Struggling to keep on top of marking, a lesson observation goes badly, a parent disapproves of how you deal with an issue, a disagreement amongst staff, a lesson goes badly, pupils arent making the progress you simply need them to.
There will no doubt be times in the future when we need to remind ourselves that no matter how much something gets to us that day, there are bright days ahead.
Here is the letter Stephen Fry penned:
I’m so sorry to hear that life is getting you down at the moment. Goodness knows, it can be so tough when nothing seems to fit and little seems to be fulfilling. I’m not sure there’s any specific advice I can give that will help bring life back its savour. Although they mean well, it’s sometimes quite galling to be reminded how much people love you when you don’t love yourself that much.
I’ve found that it’s of some help to think of one’s moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather:
Here are some obvious things about the weather:
You can’t change it by wishing it away.
If it’s dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can’t alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
It will be sunny one day.
It isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
It really is the same with one’s moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness – these are as real as the weather – AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE’s CONTROL. Not one’s fault.
They will pass: they really will.
In the same way that one has to accept the weather, so one has to accept how one feels about life sometimes.
‘Today’s a crap day,’ is a perfectly realistic approach. It’s all about finding a kind of mental umbrella.
‘Hey-ho, it’s raining inside: it isn’t my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit it out. But the sun may well come out tomorrow and when it does, I shall take full advantage.’
I don’t know if any of that is of any use: it may not seem it, and if so, I’m sorry. I just thought I’d drop you a line to wish you well in your search to find a little more pleasure and purpose in life.
Very best wishes
Wishing everybody a great 2014,