September, more so than January, always makes me think about new beginnings probably because of many past years working as a college lecturer. September heralds the start of the new academic year and, during my teaching years, this golden, autumnal month was the start of a fresh calendar, new students and a whole new academic year ahead. I still get those new beginning feelings in September, even though I left my lecturing post over 10 years ago. The thoughts associated with the new academic year never really leave you if you’ve spent years of your working life in education.
September always saw me questioning my abilities; the butterfly fluttering about my middle manifested by mixed feelings of personal doubt and other tummy churning thoughts that I harboured on my return to work after the summer holidays. And even now, my professional habit of September self-doubt and, “Am I good enough?”, thoughts revisit me at this time of year.
This month in the calendar will also see thousands of young adults up and down the country starting apprenticeships, colleges, and universities and as part of that process, meeting new friends, settling in and becoming familiar with their new surroundings. It’s an exciting time, but for many, the settling in period can be daunting too.
So, I thought I’d use today, September 1st, to remind me, and perhaps one or two of you, about some important life lessons.
Lesson No.1: Press Mute
The voice in your head will always be your biggest critic. Make a decision, now, that the noise saying, “You’re not good enough”, is turned to mute. This minute. Doing this, makes listening to our surroundings so much easier. I’ve discovered all kinds of good things about myself without that din. The absence of its blaring tones creates head space to focus on everything you are good at and the wonderful qualities about you that have got you to today.
Lesson No.2: Worry Less
Worrying about how you are perceived by others, whether that be friends or colleagues, is a pastime that’s futile, albeit one in which I’ve invested a lot of time. I’ve learned it achieves nothing and is a major contributor to the not good enough feeling.
Being a worrier is tiresome. I know this, but still need regular help to remind me just how tiresome. Excessive worrying removes the fun from life and is a growth factor for the joyless feelings of, “I’m not good enough”.
Over the years, I’ve spent so much time worrying about fitting in and being liked, a habit that started as a child and stayed with me throughout much of my adult life. When I eventually get round to writing a letter to my younger self, it’ll definitely begin with, “Do not worry so much”, and will end with, “Do not worry so much”, because my younger self will go on to learn it will make everything else in life so much easier.
Lesson No.3: You Are Human
It’s not just you. Doubting yourself as you start work again after a summer holiday, wondering if you’ll fit in as you start your new job/college/university, thinking about how difficult something is going to be? You’re a human being and other human beings are having those doubts too, right this second.
We all have feelings and thoughts that are sometimes overwhelming. Pause, remember to breathe and remember too, that thoughts aren’t necessarily facts. Take three deep breaths and tell yourself this: You are good enough and all will be well.
Lesson No.4: You Are Your Best Friend
Be your own best friend. Be to yourself, how a good friend is towards you. Show yourself kindness, patience and compassion. Believe in your abilities, have faith in them and regularly reflect on everything you have already achieved. In times of self-doubt, focussing on your weaknesses instead of your strengths, only highlights others strengths, registering none of their shortcomings.
Lesson No.5: Like Your Reflection
Take a few moments, every morning when you look in the mirror, to remind yourself that the person looking back is a reflection of you. Treat that reflection with care. Truly, there is only one like it in the world.
Finally, remember this: today will come and it will go.
Whatever you are facing today, may courage be your partner and may it start and finish with these words of comfort, “Good enough just as I am”.
YOU are unique, you ARE loved, you are good ENOUGH already.