February: in review

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Ok, I’m going to come out with it from the start… this month was a tough one. I can’t say I’m going to miss it – I’m looking forward to trading it in for March. This month has passed by in a flash of work, flavoured with a dash of burnout and overwhelm, and I’m happy to be looking forward with a clearer mind and schedule.

Now, that’s not to say that February has gone without any successes or joy, it’s more that the uphill climb to get to and through them has been hard. Essentially, I’m saying get ready for a reflective kind of round up of my bruiser of a month.

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The absolute core of my work this month has been with Rethink Mental Illness, finally delivering the student mental health conference that I’ve been working so hard on for months. I have a love-hate relationship with organising large events – I absolutely love the buzz you get on the day and being able to see that tangible impact, but at the same time the planning and logistics are so intensely stressful. Given my body isn’t really built for high stress, that part can be even more challenging so I feel so fortunate I had some wonderful colleagues and my team of young champions there to support me. We have had some brilliant feedback from teachers and students and I’ve felt so proud to hear from champions how much they took from their leadership on the day. I felt totally exhausted once it was over but I think I can say now, looking back, that it was worth the energy it took.

February also saw me getting out and about with Brook in my role as a freelance Education and Wellbeing Specialist. I supported the delivery of sessions on consent with sixth formers mid month and just yesterday spent my morning teaching year 8s about healthy relationships. I’m absolutely loving working with new materials and content and having the chance to engage in conversations with young people about such important topics.

This month marked the end of my time volunteering with Yes Futures as a coach. I spent the first weekend of February with over 80 students, including mine, on a residential trip and had my final 1-1 sessions this week. It has been a really interesting journey over the last 6 months, developing my questioning and communication skills and supporting young people to achieve their goals. One of my coachees told me in our final session that she had been anxious about having 1-1 sessions with an adult but that her time with me has been like talking to a really helpful friend. Oh, my heart.

The shining light of my month, however, has been Write Like a Grrrl: ROAR. Each session spent with the girls exploring different aspects of writing fiction is a treat and a highlight in my week – nerding out over books, discussing how fiction makes us feel and scribbling down new words and ideas. Their enthusiasm and energy has been so inspiring and I can’t believe we only have two workshops left. I’m genuinely excited to start working on funding applications to try and ensure the programme can continue and expand.

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Life has taken a backseat a little bit this month as so much of my energy has been poured into work and I’ve not had much left to place elsewhere. A stark reminder of the necessity of self-care and pacing hit me last week in the form of a virus that kept me in bed for eight days solid. It has been a long time since I’ve felt so debilitated but I was feeling the impact emotionally as well as physically. There is something about being trapped in a cycle of working, resting, working (and repeat) that takes its toll after a while. January and February have just been too full on and I’ve begun to feel the lack of air that a lack of social plans and free time can produce.

I’m acutely aware that I haven’t managed to achieve the balance my body needs yet this year – falling back into bad habits of taking on too much. March will be a month to recalibrate and try to get back into the better habits I developed last year. I do have a fair bit planned already, so I know this might be a challenge at times, but I’m hoping I can look ahead to the rest of the spring with a bit more self compassion and restraint. I know that doing less to a higher standard and feeling better, whilst making time for myself as well, is ultimately a better plan.

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The end of March marks the end of my time at Rethink Mental Illness so I’ll have a much more open schedule again. I’m incredibly sad to be leaving but excited too for what the next opportunity might be. Whilst I figure that out, I have plenty of facilitation work coming up with Future First and Brook and hope to be beginning work as a mentor in Hackney with Inspire Education Business Partnership.

I’m also excited that a good chunk of next month will be spent learning. I’m beginning a short course at House of Illustration which I cannot wait for, as well as training to become a Youth Mental Health First Aider.

I’m ending February very tired but hopeful that the next month could be a great one. Come back at the end of March to find out if I’m right…

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