Would the real Sian-Claire please stand up?!
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Someone else writing a blog?! Who do they think they are!?!
That was me a few years ago, angry at the nerve of people who thought their opinion should be public. However, as I spent time feeling that anger, looking at it and then stepping aside to study it, I realised I wasn't really angry - I was jealous. I was someone who had spent my life silencing my voice, hiding my light and nodding along with everyone else so as not to 'make waves'.
At age 4 my dad died and I defined myself by this event. For me I felt it made me different to everyone else. I struggled to relate to my peers whose lives seemed carefree and full - if only I had a dad I would be 'normal'.
That feeling of difference grew and I honed in on messages and actions which enforced my belief that I was not acceptable as me, that I would only be liked, heard and accepted if I went along with the crowd. Friendships felt uncertain, which I blamed on the fact I was so different. Looking back, it was because I never gave people the opportunity to connect with the real me - if Sian-Claire wasn't 'in the room' how could any connection I made be real, honest and therefore to be trusted?
Growing up is tough! Choosing what to believe, act upon or ignore is a minefield! It wasn't helped by the increasingly large metaphorical stick I was developing to beat myself up with when I didn’t meet my own high standards. I could find criticism in the smallest gesture and felt a pressure to do better, be better, be the best. The pressure I put upon myself to 'be perfect' and 'not let anybody down' increased and guided my decisions. I wasn't skinny enough, pretty enough, good enough. I compared myself to others constantly, believing the images I saw in the media was what I ‘should’ be like.
I went to university and gained a degree in Psychology, a subject I loved. But what to do with it? I wanted to learn about people, maybe in some twisted way as a further way to provide evidence that I wasn't good enough- beliefs about the self are funny like that – even when we don’t know they are there they can guide our behaviour and attitudes. But what job could I do that would also give me reasonable pay, push me to be even better and status?? I went into teaching.
Being a teacher is like working in a pressure cooker. You have to plan and deliver lessons which are judged. Working with statistics which state that 'Pupil A should get Grade X because they were able to blow their nose, do a cartwheel and recite Shakespeare when they were 7' and if Pupil A doesn't get that result you are judged. You have to show you can use the latest technology, techniques and strategies to make lessons dynamic, accessible, differentiated and lots of other long-winded complicated words and if you cannot show all these things within a 30 minute slot when observed - you got it, you are judged. Needless to say, for someone with a 'perfectionist streak' and a need to please others, teaching was not good for me. The body has a funny way of letting us know when stuff is getting too much – my body has an amazing way of stopping me in my tracks when I am feeling stressed – it just took me a long time to hear it and realise what it was trying to say. My mind and body became exhausted. What I wanted began to overtake who I felt I was. I left teaching.
I returned to the job I had done before teaching -a support worker for children with life threatening and life-limiting conditions. It was just what I needed - something I knew I could do well with relatively little pressure (compared to what I was use to). It was flexible enough so I had some time for myself and I was still 'working' which was what you have to do, right? The only downside - the recognition for what you do and the pay is awful. Two things that for someone who craves attention, recognition and acceptance by a faceless society are vital for self-worth. I began to miss the chance to 'prove myself' whilst at the same time feeling something was missing within ME. Whilst speaking to a friend, they mentioned they were enrolling on a counselling course and a light bulb went off inside me. It was about people, psychology, helping others and finding myself - I enrolled the next day.
In the early days I found juggling the essays, work and family life straight forward but as my training progressed to the next level, the juggling act increased. I now needed to fit in family, work and college as well as essays, a placement, supervision and personal therapy.
This was huge in itself but what was the biggest challenge was the exact thing I had been so looking forward to - the headlong nose-dive into the inner workings of me! I approached the challenge with my standard mindset - If I'm going to do it, I will do it full pelt, no half jobs - be perfect, however this approach, I have come to realise leaves yourself vulnerable. It hurts, but I have come to learn that it is from this pain I have learnt the most about myself.
I have experienced the swelling of joy and sense of deep connected-ness but also felt utterly alone and deep wounding pain; clarity on things I had carried with me all my life (including that perfectionist drive, self-worth and big stick) and utter confusion as to who I was and who I was becoming. I learnt that to have closeness you need to allow yourself to feel vulnerable and that vulnerability isn't a weakness it is courage. I learnt to notice what I felt, what I wanted and started to hear an inner voice that had been pushed down for decades. I learnt that what I have experienced, what I feel and what I have to say are important because they are mine.
So, here I am, using that new-found voice to write, “yet another blog”, in the hope that speaking my truth may help others to notice theirs and feel able to stand up and let their voice be heard because it is important - because it is YOU!
Take care and let your light shine bright!!
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To see more about what I offer in my counselling practice visit www.sian-clairecounselling.com
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