Hello, you marvellous creature. How’s the world been treating you this week?
One of the consequences of working on a play like Chris is Dead – “an awkwardly funny, shamelessly honest story about love, loss and splitting the phone bill”, if you’re interested- is that it reminds me and the cast of how unprepared we feel for life’s big events.
As we get older we are more and more likely to come across situations that require a lot from us, whether that’s mentally (“oh dear God, A Levels”), physically (“oh dear God, Freshers’ Week”) or emotionally (“oh dear God, the Friends finale”). The bizarre thing is that, A Levels aside, we never feel that our qualifications actually qualify us to deal with what life throws at us, do we?
When I was doing a Paediatric First Aid course a couple months ago, I freely admit that I never expected to have to use much (if any) of the information. When I ran into a genuine First Aid issue at work a couple of weeks later, I felt pretty sick. I knew I had the know-how somewhere in my head, but what if I forgot something really important? What if I got it wrong?
I did remember what to do, and the child was fine, but the point is that I felt shockingly under-prepared, even though I had technically been trained. How much worse is it to have to deal with emergency situations that we can’t possibly be trained up for?
You can’t take a course in Guiding a Friend Through Their Spiritual Epiphany (Diploma) or do a GCSE in Moving House Without Getting Completely Destroyed by Stress (and Inexplicably Losing the Kettle). There are no night schools for those of us who don’t know what to say to a bereaved loved one, and no one has yet thought to suggest a degree in the whys and wherefores of navigating a tricky divorce. This seems impractical, unfair and, frankly, a perfectly decent enterprise concept gone to waste.
Everyone is afraid that they are under-qualified for life. For example, my mum has five kids, a mortgage and her own food mixer, but she would be the first to admit that she doesn’t feel like a grown-up. Even so, she has always managed to handle scary/difficult life situations brilliantly. As long as we are doing our best, we’re probably handling the situation as well as anyone could expect or require of us. In a way, life experience and ageing in general is our nebulous equivalent to gaining a foundation degree in Responding to Crises Without Completely Losing It & Actually Coming Out of the Whole Thing Pretty Well.
It might not be as reassuring as a bona fide certificate with signatures and foil seals and whatnot, but trusting yourself to be up to the challenge is a massive part of dealing with whatever the issue is. Even if you’ve somehow lost a kettle.
Have a truly splendid Wednesday.