On the year anniversary of my wonderful Mum’s death, me, my sister and my Aunts – Mum’s three sisters – were all struggling to come to terms with her untimely and unexpected death. One of my Aunts kindly sent us a beautiful book, as she distracted herself in Waterstones on the anniversary, intriguingly called ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy. I flicked through it when she sent it, I am ashamed to say but I only read it from cover to cover, yesterday, and I can heartily recommend it. The rough illustrations are beautiful, they are sketches, and it is about life and friendship, full of thoughtful sayings. It is simple, easy to read but very clever too and it can be read in one sitting.
For example, the boy in the book asks his new friend the horse:
“what is the bravest thing that you ever said?”
” ‘Help!’ said the horse”
As something ,or someone, who is regarded as being strong and capable, it is indeed difficult to lose face and to ask for help. It does not come naturally, so it is a very brave thing to do.
In fact the horse seems a very wise character to me as he also says:
” The truth is that everyone is winging it”
I know that this is true : you go through life thinking that everyone else has got their life under control and that they know what they are doing. As you get older, you realise that nobody has an easy life, we all have our own challenges and most people will struggle at some point in their lives. As a new parent, you look around and think that every other Mum is doing a better job than you are.; they seem to have breezed through breast feeding, their baby is always clean and smiling and they tell you how well their baby sleeps at night! The truth may well be slightly different, but that news dints your own self confidence and you can begin to feel inadequate.
It is the same at work, I was in awe of those clients who were so capable and competent at their jobs and initially that was intimidating. But then you begin to see the cracks appear and you realise that they are not as perfect as you first thought. My role was to provide market research for clients and so I was providing information that would help them in their jobs. I worked in research from graduating, for 31 years and so I learned that my clients did not in fact have all the answers, in fact, I held some of them, which was a powerful revelation that gave me confidence in my work. There were some clients who I got to know really well, who were almost friends, and they would share their insecurities and challenges with me, revealing that they were definitely ‘winging it’ in their professional guise, as was I. Particularly when I was suffering with my mental health, I always continued to work, but I would be full of self doubt and I was always waiting to be ‘found out’ as an imposter, who actually knew nothing.
Certainly as a parent of a son with additional needs, I have been winging it since he was first born and we received his diagnosis. The world of disability was a total new mystery to me and I have been navigating my way through it for 21 years now. That is why I try to support other newer Mums, as I would have loved someone to tell me some shortcuts or things to watch out for when Joshua was younger. The epilepsy nurse thought that I was strong and determined, she said ‘If Emma wants Joshua to go to that Special School, then that is where he will go!’ when we were going through a tribunal to swap schools. I did indeed have the bit between my teeth, but the truth was, I was absolutely winging it on that day at the tribunal, and every other day before and since.
So, have a good day and continue to wing it like the rest of us.