Last night I tweeted this:
Today I decided that I can’t do my MEd. I am really sad and cross with myself about it but a perfect storm of circumstances has made it impossible for me to continue. If you know me well, you will know that I am not a giver-upper. But on this occasion, I need to give up. 😢
The responses have been very supportive and lovely and I won’t deny that they have helped me a lot at a time when I am feeling a little bit all over the place.
But I thought I would try to explain a bit more about the decision and context. As always when I write, I do so to help me clarify my own thinking and feelings but also because I hope that it might help others who are perhaps going through similar and need to know that they aren’t alone.
The headline of this story would be “Lena drops out of MEd due to exhaustion”. And this would be a pretty good summary. I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I have navigated working from home, trying to be an ok parent, trying to share ideas on how to get through via daily YouTube videos, trying not to be overwhelmed by anxiety, grief, disappointment…I have navigated all that ok but now it has caught up.
I am now officially on holiday and had hoped to use the next week to read more texts on the ethics of practitioner enquiry, and complete two assignment tasks for the module of my course. But after three days of sitting, staring at the screen, sobbing, starting again and getting absolutely no-where, I have drawn a line.
The headline doesn’t tell it all, however and there is a subtext that I want to share because it relates to authenticity, one of my core values.
Almost a year ago, I turned fifty. I wrote a piece where I suggested that I didn’t need to keep proving myself any more.
But if I am honest, the last year hasn’t quite worked out the way I’d planned and my desire to live by the philosophy of “this is me, take me as I am” hasn’t quite worked out.
Because some people aren’t comfortable with me, what I stand for and, perhaps most importantly, with the way I express things. A year ago, I didn’t realise that I needed to understand that but this year, more than any before, has taught me that.
Part of doing the MEd was about trying to hone my “academic voice” and be able to express things in a way that is more palatable, political and acceptable.
I see that there is a need for that. I can see that maybe by doing that, I’ll become more acceptable to the system and that maybe my voice will be heard by the people with influence.
I often joke that I am always the bridesmaid and never the bride….that I am like Mike Wasowski in Monster’s Inc who, every time a photo is taken, is obscured by someone or something standing in front of him. But maybe, in order to be seen and heard, I need to change the way that I show up and frame the pictures that I present differently.
I thought and still hope that I am the type of school leader that Scotland needs right now. I hope that by gaining another piece of accreditation, another sign of being seen as “valid” and “approved”, that I will secure the job that I have long dreamt of doing.
And I so I am cross that it will take a bit longer for me to achieve that. I am cross that I have “failed” to what was needed because I feel as if time is running out for me and that with each year that passes, I am less and less likely to achieve my dream and to serve in the way that I am meant to.
But I also need to take some time to remember that being a good mum, wife, friend and person and being able to sleep at night knowing that I have done the best I can from a place of values are part of my dream. And that listening to my inner voice and heart are as important as listening to the approving voices of others.
I need some time and space to do that.
Alison Kriel, someone for whom I have ultimate respect in the world of education, shared this poem yesterday and I am sharing it here. It resonates hugely with me just now and hope that it might help others too.
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
~ Martha Postlewaite
( I have sourced the poem here: https://www.businessballs.com/blog/clearing-martha-postlethwaite/
About Martha Postlethwaite: Martha Postlethwaite’s publisher Fortress Press offers this biography: “Martha Postlethwaite has spent her professional life listening to and sharing stories in numerous settings, including as a seminary chaplain and in congregations. A United Methodist Church pastor, she is trained in counseling psychology and spiritual direction. After twenty-two years in theological education, Martha found her true home as the lead pastor of The Recovery Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.” (Retrieved 11 Oct 2019 from https://fortresspress.com/author/martha-postlethwaite, for her book Addiction and Recovery: A Spiritual Pilgrimage, published February 1, 2019. The poem Clearing was written several years prior to this.)