Last weekend (alright, alright, thousands of weekends ago, but the last weekend I set myself a DO/AO experimenty-challenge thingy), I tried to drop having all the answers and add appreciation.
Writing this a few weeks late, I have honestly forgotten whether I felt any advantage from focusing on following my internal values regardless of external success. I am surprised at how little impression it has made on me. Re-reading my post from the start of the weekend, I realise that I had forgotten this perspective and now I really want to recapture and develop this way of looking at things.
For instance, this fortnight I started a second job. My first job is casual relief teaching (emergency or substitute teaching). I mostly enjoy this, but I do not want to be a full-time teacher, so it is not a job that is moving me towards a career goal. My new job is a casual research assistant for a research study on adolescent overweight and fitness. I will be seeing the adolescents to get their data and walk them through the study, and then seeing them again to collect follow-up data. It should be a job that I am very suited to, with an understanding of research from my Psychology degree and a familiarity with following formal assessment procedures with young people from my teaching. It will be great experience for Honours next year and future employment in anything related to Psychology or youth.
However, there are a lot of things to learn and to remember and the procedures are quite complicated to begin with. I’ve noticed the same old doubts creeping in that I used to get when I was teaching full-time. At times I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and I have visions of me forgetting details of the procedures, not keeping the documents organised, making silly mistakes and generally not being as good as the other casual research assistants.
But that is all worrying about external outcomes. Perhaps, if I focus more on some of the things I have learned from DO/AO, I will reduce my doubts and anxiety and approach my work with more self-belief. This is the perfect opportunity to remember that I don’t have to have all the answers yet, I don’t have to know how to do everything perfectly nor how to tackle every task or situation that might arise. I wrote in my last weekend’s post:
“This is what I’ve noticed about myself so far:
I want to be someone who tries.
I want to be someone who allows herself to fail or be foolish.
I want to be someone who is present with others.
I want to be someone with integrity.”
If I am focusing on following these values, then I have every chance of succeeding. If I still don’t succeed, then I have nothing to reproach myself with. I will have behaved with persistence, integrity and positivity and therefore done everything I could have done. Perhaps merely a weekend was not enough for this attitude to take hold.
I also tried to add more difficult and challenging appreciation. This was challenging, because I actually was getting annoyed with someone in my family and found it really hard to offer any appreciation. I did add manage to add some small demonstrations of affection but I was acutely aware of how hard it was, with my frustrated and resentful feelings, to be truly generous with this. I have noticed, however, that it has stayed in my mind and I have managed to find more opportunities since then to show some appreciation. I can still do more, but I am learning to value my small efforts to build habits rather than to notice how far I have to go and see that as inadequacy and feel guilty and wretched.
I think this is another example of a weekend not being enough. It is taking me longer to generate the genuinely appreciative comments and gestures for those more challenging people. A weekend is also not enough for me to have many opportunities to express appreciatation for a variety of people. However, I have made a start.