It’s been a heady week of housework, dog walking, spending some time catching up with loved ones, and trying to get up early. Living the high life!
Back to School
I woke up later than planned and kept thinking to myself ‘the children will be coming into school now.’ 12 pm – ‘They’ll be having lunch now’. 3pm – ‘They’ll be getting ready for home time now’. I was thinking of my colleagues as I watched the teachers at the school opposite to where I live return to work. I felt naughty! It’s an odd feeling and one that’s difficult to accurately describe.
I finally drafted a rehearsal schedule for the play I’m directing from next month. I thought planning for a team of people was difficult but blimey! Trying to work around dates that every actor is available, and ensuring that each scene is given due time to work through, was tricky! I got it done, and was pleased with my very first rehearsal schedule… I e-mail it to my cast. One comes back to me… they had a Christmas present of tickets for a show on a rehearsal night, is it okay if they miss that one? I like to think my response was lighthearted… I meant it though!
I helped out at the theatre ‘stuffing day’… when volunteers come together and put brochures for the next season into envelopes, along with flyers for outside lets, and address them to be sent to everyone on our ticketing database. Over 2800 done in under 2 hours! The camaraderie was lovely. I sat with friends old and new, chatting as we worked, people joking about my ‘retirement’ and how was I enjoying it?! Several former teachers were there, and they shared some stories about experiences post teaching, things that they did next, the circumstances that lead them there, and I had a great sense of reassurance and support. My theatre family have been supportive through so many life changing events that I always appreciate them being there.
The Birthday Party!
Myself and my partner went to the 30th birthday party of a former colleague. Seems a bit weird even typing that! I’m really glad we went. I won’t pretend there wasn’t some trepidation… I’m hardly flavour of the month with some people. But the birthday girl appreciated the gesture, and that was what was important.
My first negative comment!
I was wondering how long it would take after putting myself out there publicly… the fact that someone was incensed enough to even take the time to comment negatively was great! It’s lovely having people of a similar mindset make positive comments and being supportive. But, not everyone thinks the same way or has the same opinions. I’m not offended by someone expressing a different opinion to mine. This is a very personal blog in terms of it is my opinions and feelings, and I don’t expect others to have the same opinions and feelings as me. That’s fine.
I’ll be very honest here… when I was leading an Early Years unit, there were members of staff within it that at times were struggling to cope. At the time, I was juggling home, work and theatre. I had performed for 3 months at the RSC in the first amateur ensemble that they had ever assembled. In my own time. Rehearsing every night of the week, and most Saturdays. I had achieved many personal successes, both in and out of the classroom. I was a senior leader in the school. I was well respected by professionals I worked with, within County, within other schools in our pyramid. I was called upon to mentor, to give advice, I was listened to. And those members of my team who were struggling, I didn’t support as well as I could have. My attitude at the time was ‘I’m juggling all of these things and still keeping on top of the job, doing it well, what is your problem?’. I’m shocked by myself now, looking back.
When someone who has never met me, observed me working, or knows what my background is, accuses me of being ‘overly dramatic’… well Darling, as I shall now refer to the D in your name, what do you expect from someone with a drama degree and who has been acting for over 15 years?!
When you accuse me of being incompetent and not being conscientious… you are tapping into what I’ve been thinking of myself for the last year, and so are many others in this profession. Not because we are, but because we work in a culture which is increasingly demanding and we feel we are never good enough, doing enough or caring enough. I suggest that I burnt out because I was TOO conscientious. I gave and gave and gave of myself. Those children were the most important people in my life. When I felt I was failing them, I decided to go. As for wasting my time being self indulgent and writing this… this takes me minutes to do, on a sporadic basis. It’s not just for me, it’s for anyone who feels like me. Just knowing you’re not alone can be helpful. I have the luxury of being able to say it how it is, for me, because I don’t intend to come back to the profession. I’m burning those bridges baby! Many cannot say it as honestly.
But trust me, they feel it.
If you feel that you have got the whole job nailed, that you are competent and conscientious and none of what I have said is an issue that you experience, great! Genuinely. If you can do this job, that I wholeheartedly believe is an honourable and brilliant profession, and not be ground down by the bureaucracy, the paperwork, the data crunching, and everything that detracts from children and their best interests, brilliant. Well done!
Rather than criticising someone who is being open and honest about struggling, maybe you could be part of the change. Build up other women in your profession. Encourage. Share the secrets of your success and how you make this work for you. There are many out there who could use your tips for how to survive a very difficult job. I admire anyone who can.
And to all those who I didn’t understand when they were struggling, and thought of as weak, incompetent or not as conscientious as me… I’m sorry.
We all have different breaking points.