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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tackling teens - 1

Last week I came up with the brilliant idea to promote the book around the country, by approaching secondary schools in Ireland and offering my services (initially voluntary) to talk about my own personal experiences: about why I wrote the book, the message that it holds, addiction, the false search for happiness, body image, self-esteem, the role society plays in determining our own sense of self and how to build deep confidence that’s real and dependable. With these talks it’s my aim to make people aware and to erase some of the secrecy that’s attached to eating disorders. Because it’s partially due to this secrecy that it’s such a taboo. The shame the sufferer feels is huge as a result and makes the actual step one takes when it comes to accepting help and recovering, far more difficult than it otherwise could be. God, this really is a topic that gets me fired up! 

Anyhow… to keep it brief (cause I can feel myself going off on a little tangent here!), society (Ireland specifically) needs to open their eyes and stop pretending that things aren’t happening, when really they are! Wouw… such Masters people can be, in excusing certain behaviour and ignoring the truth that is appearing before their eyes! How easy it is, to turn a blind eye and carry the deeper concerns within us, as we continue living our lives. One day turns into the next, and the next, and the next… time passes, lives fade away because deep down people are terrified to bring anything to the surface that could be condemned!  

Sorry, I’m not really keeping this brief at all! Back on track…

Approaching secondary schools, to reach teenagers from 15 years and up, I felt would be the best way to go… I figured I, personally, could do this. I’ve got my teaching experience, I can manage a class and I can encourage teenagers/young adults to open up… I can keep a flow when I’m talking, and most importantly, I’m not ashamed to relay my experiences. I say all of this so easily… I can write about this so clearly. Can I speak just simply?

Yesterday morning was the first talk at one of the secondary schools here in town. I’d arranged last week to come in for a 2-hour slot (4th year students, only a small group of 30!) Easy peasy… in China I’d been teaching groups of 60… This would be a breeze?!?! Hummm…

There was a big difference: I wasn’t in China… I was in my hometown. Therefore this job I’d voluntary placed upon myself was something HUGE: I was going into a school in the ONLY place on EARTH where I hold my roots and the base of my truth; I would be setting a part of myself free within the ‘imprisoned world’ I’d always labelled this place to be. This meant I was overcoming some huge personal barriers.  Realizing this, I also realized that if I could do it and remain standing, then I could conquer the whole world, as I’d have faced my biggest fear in LIFE!

The topic I’m addressing is so REAL and so DELICATE. This is about REAL life stuff. For teenagers, it’s tough to absorb. It’s hard and confronting to have to listen to such talks and to be shaken about. Teenagers don’t want to hear about bad things that can happen. It’s too confronting and confusing.

Throughout the days before the talk, I felt the world was going to stop turning, as soon as 9am on September the 12th would arrive. I wondered if there would be a life AFTERWARDS…!!!!

God… I’d made it into the biggest deal of my life. But I didn’t back down (even though there was a voice telling me to). I geared myself up for the talk… I consciously applied too much pressure to perform. Why? Because that’s what teaching is! In every moment you have to be at your best, prepared for anything that can happen and more than ABLE to deal with whatever comes your way, without ever showing doubts or fears.

The vastness of this topic meant that within the first 15 minutes some of the boys were getting bored, playing like little kids, talking, messing around, annoying each other… Of course! That’s fine… they’re teenagers… Just LISTENING is sooooooooooooo boring and uncool! Improvising with every moment… that’s what came to the rescue. For nearly 2 full hours I was searching for creative sparks to come alive inside of me, so I could keep ideas rolling and the lesson flowing and engaging—whilst still relating it to this topic. I was swimming, but not drowning. Disciplining them, but not getting pissed-off… (even though it really wasn’t my job… I wasn’t there as their teacher… I was there as a GUEST speaker)… 

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