The voices in my head are memories of the people in my life captured within my mind. They combine to provide the guiding golden thread of inner dialogue (my intuition) which I use to navigate the world and attempt to make sense of it.
The photo here is of a creative reflection of my learning on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. It is a paper sculpture of a circle of four people, representing the four themes of the course. They are joined at hands (support) and feet (grounding) and wrapped in a friendship band of interwoven threads. The threads represent social, emotional and theoretical strands of learning. The red thread linked my creation to those of my peers within our group of four (working together on this task). Their creations were very different, however we were united by the threads of conversation. My thread was red, the others used green, blue and gold. Starting separately, they became twisted and entangled into one twine, which when viewed at a distance, looked like an umbilical cord. I have been inspired by their stories, thoughts and experiences…I carry some of these forward with me. To capture this I took a small piece of each of their threads and rested it on the heads of my paper sculpture (see photo).
On leaving the room I realised I had lost these small threads. I looked around but couldn’t find them and sighed, ‘oh well, I have them in my head‘. Before I made it through the door, a gentle hand stopped me, tucked the small threads into my hand and a voice whispered, ‘I found them on the floor, here they are.’ I looked up and we shared a smile. ‘Thank you‘ I replied, meaning for so much more than just those threads. It was one of the others from our group, she had instinctively understood how I had been feeling and we had talked about it in the session. She had noticed that I was unhappy (a combination of her high emotional IQ and my expressive face), and had taken care to find out why. She could see that I do not like negativity. My default reaction to situations like this is to play the clown, diffuse tension, emphasise the positive, to ‘jolly folk along’. Like others on the course I have ‘issues,’ I have too much I want/need to do, and not enough time. I just choose to view it as a challenge, to take a positive approach.
I am enthusiastic about learning, I cherish opportunities to learn with and from other people. My approach has taken many years to form, and is the result of many different encounters with other people. I share a few of those voices (memories) here. These are the ones that have most helped me recently – perhaps they may prove helpful to you?
“Seriously mate, you need to re-frame that in a more positive way! Why so negative?” The voice of a past colleague helped me to feel less isolated – she was by my side, seeing it from my perspective. This helps me to maintain my enthusiasm for learning when I feel trapped in a negative environment.
“Remember the Wizard’s first rule: Look at the potential not at the problem.” A voice that guided me to take my first tentative steps as a youth worker, and continues to help me focus on the important things in life.
“Flick the bird of doubt off your shoulder.” A metaphor for the self-doubt that plagues many of us as we start learning something new – it reminds me of a very special fellow PhD student, and makes me smile when I think/say it as I feel her presence nearby.
“Boggarts featured at the … conference yesterday. I sensed your presence!!” A small comment within an email from a learned, critical friend. Reading his work had prompted me to apply to University of Cumbria to do my PhD – I wanted to meet him, know him better, learn from him – as I now can (and do).
I also have to acknowledge that some of the voices I carry are less overtly positive. I share a few here:
“Higher education isn’t for girls…” “You’re just an over-opinionated housewife.” “You never finish anything…remember when you tried knitting?” “You’re being too reflective…” “Teddies? really? But these are academic people, they’ll expect something more clever! Better think again.”
These voices can also be interpreted in a positive way – they motivate me, they have helped me to understand who I am, and enabled me to be able to explain this, and if needed justify it to others.
I thank you all.