Back in July, I blogged about the end of the school year. The beginning of 2016 provides a good opportunity for a more personal reflection, given that my life has changed a great deal in the last twelve months. The biggest change is that I’ve moved to Canada, albeit temporarily and with plenty of opportunities to return to the UK. But this has caused lots of other, smaller, changes, some of which I’ve mentioned in this post. Jotting down initial thoughts, most changes were both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – if we can ever classify experiences in such simplistic terms. In fact, perhaps one of the effects of social media (see below) is that we are overly keen to label things using only one hashtag or smiley!
Occupation: We often define ourselves more by what we do than by what we love, fear or feel. It’s been strange no longer defining myself as a teacher, both in my own mind and when speaking to other people: For example, people now often assume I’m younger than my age because I’m a student – and, with considerably less responsibility for others now, I certainly feel less old! Being a student gives my days far more flexibility than is possible in teaching. The main drawback to this is that it requires self-discipline to get anything done: Without school bells, a teaching timetable and morning briefings, it’s very easy to spend large parts of the day ‘getting ready for work’ (it’s amazing what can qualify for this description). I’ve also been reminded that learning is harder than we often realise. And that teaching, particularly in the current climate, is exhausting; I am pleasantly surprised by how much more I sleep, and how much less I worry, than 12 months ago.
Social media: In June, I very nervously joined Twitter and started blogging – and have found that I enjoy both of these activities a great deal. I especially value the opportunity to keep in touch with British music educators whilst I am ‘out of the system’ in Canada. Contributing to public forums provides a different writing opportunity than the written requirements of my course. There have been new friendships made, excitements when ‘important people’ have retweeted or replied to me, and relatively few awkward netiquette moments. I’ve also expanded my Facebook friendship group, keeping in contact with UK friends and getting to know people in Canada. There have been drawbacks though: Participating in conversations across different time zones meant I kept Facebook and Twitter open for much of the day, rather than designating time specifically for work or socialising. Furthermore, not only does social media have the potential to make us feel very inferior and isolated, it also lacks the care implied by a call, email or letter – and the disjointed (and often distracted) aspect of messages, tweets and so on can make simple conversations very confusing. So I’m resolving to lurk on social media a little less when I should be working, and use my ‘socialising’ time to communicate in a more personal, focused manner.
Resolutions: My new year’s resolution for 2015 was ‘more yoga, less swearing’. Two different activities, definitely related. Last winter I desperately needed more relaxation, more quiet time, more exercise: When I have prioritised going to yoga regularly this year, I’ve become productive, communicative, aware. 2016’s resolution is about reading and writing (doing plenty of both – and not just on Facebook and Twitter!), but I also want to keep an open outlook towards more changes, and finding the space, time and energy to explore them. I mentioned back in August how scary change can be, about the false promise of being a ‘grown up’. Maybe it’s not about trying to become a grown up, but just about keeping growing – and acknowledging the value of the little changes, both good and bad, alongside the big ones.