When I first got in touch with Jules I was in a good job with a good salary. I wasn't bored, but I didn't love it either. I felt I needed something more but I didn't know what. I found myself feeling regularly anxious at work and unconfident regarding my skills. I was losing sleep over spread sheets and feeling like a failure.
I contacted Jules not quite knowing what to expect. Her warm tone and non-judgemental comments made me feel at ease and safe to explore what was really going on in my mind.
Jules took time to get to know me and I was surprised when discussing my job that she chose to ask "What did you want to be when you were a little girl?"
This surprised me. I was used to being asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" instead.
Jules' question made me smile, remembering when I was younger – a simpler time! I thought about the query and replied "A teacher".
This began my quest to become exactly that. I knew that this would involve leaving my job and going back to university, a prospect that petrified me. I would have no regular income, where would I live? Do they even offer student funding to mature students? I began to research into my next steps and set up a regular coaching times with Jules.
My sessions with Jules were challenging, emotionally exhausting and absolutely wonderful! I left feeling like there was nothing I couldn't handle.
Getting on to the PGCE required self-belief, something I wasn't sure I had.
I learned that I had to take tests in numeracy and literacy to get on the course which petrified me as although I was comfortable with my English skills, I was certain I would fail the maths test.
My initial reaction was to presume I wasn't good enough for the course, I had so much negative mind talk going on relating to self-doubt and fear, it's a wonder I managed to take the test at all.
I felt overwhelmed and spoke to Jules and we worked through each worry one by one. This allowed me to work out which fears were fact and which were fiction, I realised that I was telling myself a series of stories based on negative beliefs and they had no truth in them. This realisation allowed me to face the tests, nervous but well prepared due to hours of revision. I passed first time, I couldn't help but think 'Take that negative voices!'
I also secured two interviews for PGCE courses. I remember feeling surprised that they would want to interview me, convinced that I wasn't good enough for the role. I had minimal experience so I had stressed my passion for my subject in my application and my dedication to learning. I hadn't thought it would be enough but there I was, two interviews planned.
My interview for Manchester Metropolitan was the week of my birthday; I left feeling deflated and convinced that I wasn't good enough for the course. The other two girls in my interview group had been so confident in my eyes. The day before my birthday, I received a notification. I remember clicking on the link whilst on the phone to my boyfriend, I didn't want to face the answer alone. 'They want me' I squeaked into the phone. I burst into tears and felt a surge of pride.
I knew this meant leaving my job and I was so relieved when my boss was supportive of my decision. There was nothing between me and my dream except self-doubt and I was determined that wouldn't stop me.
My specialism was drama, a subject I have always adored as it allows self-exploration and creative communication for all students regardless of ability. Training to teach this subject was such a pleasure and finally gave me the creative outlet I had been craving.
That said, facing a class of teenage students when I was struggling with my self-confidence was no easy feat. If I'm honest with myself I will admit at times I faked confidence but when working with children, this never works. Children and adults have a tendency to see through faked confidence. I knew I needed to dig deep and find that inner confidence.
Jules helped me to view myself and the world differently, and to question the immediate answers that my brain shot out at me in search for deeper understanding. I learned to speak to myself from a place of understanding and love rather than criticism. And see each situation that did not go to plan as a learning opportunity.
My teacher training has been the perfect way to learn more about myself, almost like it was meant to be.
My view of myself has changed astonishingly throughout this experience. I now know that there is no need to build myself up or tear myself down to get through the day. I just need to breathe and take everything one step at a time.
I am now able to see clearly when I am going into default 'drama queen' mode, something that, although fitting to my job, just isn't helpful.
Lastly, that word is my favourite – helpful. There is no judgement if I do something that isn't helpful; I'm not telling myself off, I am just seeing the action for what it is – not helping me. It's such a relief to see myself in a clear light. To understand that I'm not bad or good and I'm not a failure by imagined standards. I can decide to see myself as successful based on my own criteria, no one else's.
Now, I am a few weeks away from graduating as a qualified drama teacher, something I never thought I could do. I also have secured a job at a lovely school, the staff are so supportive and I have such a good feeling that I will be very happy there.
I know the challenges aren't over yet but now I feel ready for them.
I am continuing my coaching with Jules as I enjoy the reflective time. I may not always be able to view the world from a place of self-confidence but I've learnt that is ok, after all, I am still learning.
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