Be gentle with yourself

Life is about growing and learning and never stopping.

And about looking after yourself. Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself for what you don’t like about yourself or for what you could have done better.

For myself, I could have done some things better last Tuesday, when I was talking to a group of 14/15-year-olds, but as I can’t change that, there is no point on dwelling on it.

I was struck by how each of the youngsters representing their groups during debates (public speaking while being recorded on video!) had something else to give. Each had a different quality that was uniquely theirs and which they contributed to the whole.

Some were very passionate, others uniquely authentic, truly believing in what they said. Some sought to connect with individual members in the audience and turn what they were saying more into a dialogue than a speech. Some were looking inward for strength, others outward, and all of them had guts.

Some had some more practising to do than others, but they all at least had a little seed in them from which a beautiful plant can grow in the future if it has not already started yet.

They also all had made posters. I told them “Less is more” which I need to remind myself of all the time too, when I am writing.

A poster is a visual tool. One image says more than a thousand words, and five well-chosen words can convey more than a thousand all jammed together. Step into someone else’s shoes, a stranger’s and walk into the room, looking at your own poster.

It made me remember when I made my first poster. About the world’s first measurements of REE profiles in Antarctic seawater.

I was 30 or 31 at the time, preparing to go to a conference in Germany. I worked through the night, printing off the various images etc that I needed at the university, went home, ate my delicious cold cheeseburger with relish (figuratively speaking), slept for an hour, showered, then went to the train station.

Upon arrival in Germany, we were greeted with champagne! I had to be very careful to limit that to one glass only, and drink that very carefully! I was too tired to handle more than one glass as I’d had to stand most of the way to Germany, in a packed train. Heck, I had trouble handling that one glass. I remember hunting for some German rye bread that they were serving with it, to give the champagne some support.

I guess it was a little bit like that for these youngsters too. An adventure, not knowing what exactly to expect, taking it all in stride.

The brain has a natural negativity bias. Don’t let that get to you.