Throughout my working life I have never had the confidence or self-belief to accept that I am any good at what I do for a living. A ferocious knack regularly surfaces which has questioned my own ability at any job I have ever been employed to do. Which, may I just add, have been a colourful mix of roles across different industries since leaving college over a decade ago. The draining knack throws up questions such as: Am I good enough? Do others believe I am any good? Is this for me? When I face myself with these soul destroying questions, the answers within my mind have consistently echoed a resounding no. This answer regularly comes to fruition even when I am regularly told by colleagues the contrary.
Lack of belief manifests itself as a barrier, breeding nothing but un-fulfilment and low self-esteem -- both of which become debilitating to the minds of humans - mine being one of them. These issues have always hampered my ability to move upward in the world of work -- to achieve things above the norm, to be proud even.
Things are slowly changing, though. I am beginning to hear those positive voices of recognition and appraisal. Unexpectedly not from the voices of kind work colleagues, or encouraging Service Managers, or the mighty OFSTED - no, surprisingly from the children and young people I look after as my role as a Child Care Officer.
You see, down the years I have been told that I am good with kids - I have a natural affinity around them - when I hear these comments I have tended to just brush them off by not really listening to them -- unable to take a compliment. I am now listening in a different way - via the method of the children and young people around me. After all, kids are generally honest.
My role is tough - I look after kids on the autistic spectrum - so things can get unpredictably tricky at times. I am also beginning to cherish the good times as these do truly make the role rewarding and satisfying. They also provide you with a virtual pat-on-the back to remind you that you are doing a good job at ensuring these kids are having a great, fun, happy time.
To be good at my job I need to be a certain type of character. My manner and how I come across to kids is vital when maintaining a connection with children. I believe I am likeable, fun, flexible and kind. My personal favourites are being able to show calmness in all situations. And showing empathy by jumping in to the world of children. All skills are as equal as each other.
My capability to remain calm during both 'normal' everyday situations and extremely 'challenging' moments is something worth congratulating myself on. Pat-on-the-back for Me.
When things are 'normal' I keep them normal. I am not In-Yer-Face; I do not run around the place shouting and doing star jumps - instead I am the correct collective mix of positive energy and controlled excitement. And kids respond well to this. Equally when things get a little hairy, I ensure I remain calm. The last thing an autistic child in the midst of a meltdown wants to see is a carer who becomes angry and raises their voice. Children on the autistic spectrum need to see and feel calmness for them to 'empty their jug' so-to-speak. Calmness comes in many forms - children need to be in the presence of a calm and composed voice, collected facial expressions, along with an unruffled posture and suitable personal space. No loud voices or macho behaviour from me here. Pat-on-the-back for Me.
When I mention empathy I confuse myself. The reason being, my wife tells me that I am very socially awkward; I have very little idea of how to act socially and I have a difficult time in reading people or everyday situations. But, for some bizarre reason the opposite is the case when it comes to connecting with kids. My brain finds it easy to read kids and the situations they find themselves in. Maybe I am just a kid at heart. With this is mind, I feel I am good at chucking myself in to a small person's world -- a fascinating one at that. Pat-on-the-back for Me.
Earlier I briefly touched on slowly being able to cherish the happy moments that remind me of what a good job I am doing. Kids I look after clearly communicate their happiness and delight with me. One particular child clearly enjoys my company by expressing this verbally. With a glowing smile he shouts my name, along with his name and points eagerly at both of us. I am quietly confident he sees me as a good person to make him happy. And that truly is a voice worth listening to. Pat-on-the-back for Me.
My personal favourite has got to be when one of the children returned back from a holiday they had been on with school. He saw me playing in the garden with other children, when all of a sudden his eager eye caught mine and he ran over to me excitably shouting my name. He cuddled me and began telling me what he had eaten for lunch each day. Without actually saying it, he was communicating to me he was happy with me. Pat-on-the-back for Me.
I am going to go ahead and say it: I AM GOOD AT MY JOB. I am not a big head, neither am I arrogant - how can I be? I have forever lacked the belief. I am not perfect - no-one is, but I think I have finally found something I believe I am good at.
Long may it continue.
Pat-on-the-back for Me.