Hello, me, it's fabulous me again

20th June 2008 at 01:00
If talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, should I worry when I write myself a letter?
If talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, should I worry when I write myself a letter?

I love my job, with its many avenues of interest and its real sense of satisfaction. In a strange way I even confess to getting a buzz out of the horrible bits. When things go wrong, I admit I get a sense of satisfaction that comes from thinking, "This is what they pay me to tackle!"

And yet in the small hours or as the sun rises on Monday, I often find myself curling up in sheer terror at life. The day ahead rattles through my mind and there's no other word for what takes over. It's just plain fear. It's a regular feature of Monday morning and it looms over days that I know present a challenge, turning me into a big sobbing lump.

Some time ago I made a link between these two selves. I persuaded the one who gets that buzz out of work to drop the sobbing scaredy cat a line. It's a letter that is constantly being rewritten and regularly printed off to be kept in a pocket or by a bedside for when it's needed.

In it, the me who copes, who feels confident and has done the job, describes what that's like for the benefit of the me who is afraid to take the next step.

I reckon a lot of people could benefit from writing their own version. I certainly never show mine to anyone, which frees me up to be as immodest and big-headed as I want. But I will share a few ingredients.

When I feel I handled something I couldn't have managed five years ago, I make that point.

When I get that great feeling that I'm doing the job I was contracted to do, and doing it well, I write down whatever caused that feeling and try to express what it feels like.

Crucially, I jot down whenever a crisis evaporates and I find myself making good headway through a day I had feared facing.

It's not the cure all. I've known from a young age that I have to try forging on even though I'm nervous of every step. If you say "Boo!" to me next Monday morning, I might crumple for a moment. But look carefully as I flee - I'll be reaching for a piece of paper.

Huw Thomas, Headteacher of Emmaus Catholic and CofE Primary School, Sheffield.

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