One of the great things about becoming a teacher (apart from the long holidays, 4pm finishes, and hilariously stupid responses from children) is that you start to lose the fear of being bad at something – or at least the fear of starting.
I’ve feel like I naturally stick to the things I know and love. Singing. Theatre. Books. The Leggera Padana at Pizza Express (it’s obviously the best – fight me). I love trying new things… as long as they’re already within my comfort zone.
Like any classic milennial/gen z – I fall sort of in-between generations – this is partly from a fear of failure. The British education system also encourages us to specialise, and to avoid what we’re not good at as soon as possible. This worked pretty well for me, as a freakish child who knew what they wanted to do from the outset, but with people who want to be doctors but also fancy a spot of art on the side it’s not so easy. A levels, and the way universities treat them, encourage specialism. STEM scholars in particular suffer here. A humanities student has a certain level of freedom in their choices outside of their degree subject, whereas parents and institutions often encourage STEM students to choose within only that small field. To paraphrase Paris is Burning, they demand “STEMs across the board.” And with all this specialism, this dedication to only a certain type of subject, trying new things and starting from nothing can feel pretty scary. Also no one likes being a failure, let’s be honest.
But! Working at a school has encouraged me to push past this pessimism. If an eleven year old can start learning something with so much enthusiasm, why shouldn’t I? Also, and here’s the best bit: of I fail, I’m simply being a relatable role model for the kids. There’s nothing more comforting than seeing an older person mess something up. Phew. Pressure’s off. Now they can feel better about themselves – I’ve done a good deed simply by being really quite shit at poetry writing/rounders/the floss. Give yourself a pat on the back and a gold star.
So yesterday I went bouldering, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I was pretty rubbish, I can’t lie (the video is my talented friend, not me. Hopefully some people didn’t read down to here and think that I’m that skilled.) But thanks to some rather determined friends I made it up six or seven routes. They were the easiest ones and I was terrified every time my feet left the ground but still. I also learnt that a lot of bouldering is sitting on the floor chatting and watching other, extremely ripped people do all the work – so it was much more enjoyable than anticipated.
To sum up: If you fail, you are doing your good deed for the day and everyone thanks you for it. Also bouldering is fun.