L is for Learning

Learning is the process of gaining new knowledge through experience.

I’ve learned quite a bit about myself recently and thought it would be a fitting way to close 2022, with a post that touches on a few of those teachings.

One thing that became very apparent to me, is that life is fluid and can easily change. Over the last year or so, I’ve lived three different versions of my life and couldn’t be more grateful.

Athletics: version 1

I mention athletics a lot because it was integral to my life; and it played such a big part. This is version 1 because up until I paused and questioned whether I wanted to continue the sport, I was doing (with the support of others) the best I could to make it work. This version shaped me the most significantly, the lessons are endless, and a few standouts include:

  • To fail at something isn’t the worst that could happen, it may be better for your journey to have failed, compared to achieving success
  • Accept that things may not work out, even when you’ve been honest with your efforts
  • Those that genuinely care for you, will remain by your side during the highest of highs and lowest of lows
  • Having a plan A is great, a plan B is just as important
  • Live a life outside of the sport, it allows you to switch off

Madrid: version 2

I decided to move to Madrid because I was fed up. One day in February 2021, I had enough of my (then) current situation and needed a change. I saw an advert to do a TEFL qualification, it was lockdown, I had time on my hands and wanted to upskill, so I thought why not? Shortly after that, I saw another advert, this time to work in Spain as a Auxilliar de Conversacion and again, I thought why not? The idea of working in Spain ticked all the boxes: a new experience, a break from athletics and a chance for me to challenge myself and live life a little differently.

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, my time in Madrid is a chapter I’ll forever look back on with a smile. I worked 16 hours a week in a public secondary school and tutored privately twice a week. The rest of the time was solely mine, although, it took a bit of an adjustment as I initially remained stuck in my old ways of wanting to adhere to a regimented routine. A friend did however come out to visit early on and reminded me of why I moved abroad. After that, I learned to let go and set out to enjoy my new environment. Thursdays became my exploration day and a few of my favourite places were, Campo del Moro, Parque El Capricho, Alcala de Henares, Mazanares el Real plus many more.

Exploring made me realise how much I enjoy spending time being solitary, specifically in nature. Madrid provided me with so much opportunity to go out and just be, I’d take my journal and simply be present to my surroundings. I knew I liked doing this before moving out there but the weather (a big plus) and free time allowed me to do it more often. I took great joy from discovering these places and aim to continue doing this now I’m back in England.

The people I connected with hold a special place in my heart, from my housemate and friends to the students I taught, the language assistants I worked with and the teachers I worked alongside, my Spanish tutor and my Aranjuez family. You never know what it’ll be like when you move to a new place not knowing anyone, but my experience wouldn’t have been the same had I not met all of these lovely people.

I also learned where my true passion lies. I knew that if I wasn’t running track, I’d be working within mental health, but I just wasn’t sure in what capacity that would be. I mentioned during lockdown(s) that I wanted to upskill and during the first one I created MindMindfully Mental Health workshops with the intention of delivering them to schools / organisations / sports groups etc. as a way to support people throughout the pandemic. To cut a long story short, the workshops stayed on my laptop for the best part of a year. And it wasn’t until I moved to Spain and had conversations with students, that I thought they could benefit from some mental health education. I asked the Head of English if I could deliver the workshops and luckily the school were receptive to the idea and I ended up raising awareness, educating and supporting students with their mental health and wellbeing right up until the day I left. I felt like I was having a meaningful impact, as the students would be so open and honest with me about such personal matters. I was fulfilled and knew that a career in mental health, more specifically in an education setting is what I wanted to do in the next stage of my working life.

I could go on and on but as you can probably tell Madrid was a beautiful experience for me and it was the change that I needed. Despite the negative experience (my heels) that led me to move, I have to in a weird way be grateful that I was driven to that point. If things had worked out with track; I probably wouldn’t had ever moved away when I did.

The lessons here are:

  • Even if a situation isn’t panning out how you hoped, maybe there is something bigger and better waiting for you around the corner
  • Sometimes despair can lead to joy
  • Let go of old ways of living and make room for the new
  • Living outside of your comfort zone, really is the only place for you to grow

Sabrina today: version 3

I work in mental health and deliver psychological interventions across primary and secondary education. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing and like my role a lot! I’ll be honest, adjusting to working full time and going to uni has meant that I have to be intentional with the space I carve out for myself in order to have me time and make room for play. The balance isn’t quite right at the moment, but with all things that are new, it’ll take some time to find the groove and I’m using this Christmas period to rest and reset.

What I’m learning:

  • The energy you put out, is (in most instances) the energy you will receive
  • Have a go and don’t be afraid to just do, you’ll figure it out eventually
  • Work can easily consume you, be mindful of not allowing it to do so by creating boundaries
  • If you want a positive experience, have a positive perspective
  • Things will unfold as they are supposed to

I’m going into 2023 welcoming more experiences and I’m excited to see how I evolve in this new year. Although, I’ve written about these versions in 3 broad categories (for the ease of communicating) I can break them down much further. The reality is, who you are today is not who you were yesterday and won’t be who you are tomorrow. Your life is not stagnant (even if it may feel that way at times) because if we give it some thought, no two days are the same and if you want proof, look at your environment every day and really pay attention, you’ll notice something different every time.

I hope reading this inspired you to reflect and think about some of the lessons you’ve learned from your own experience over the last year or so and I wonder if you could recognise different versions of yourself.

On a final note, I have a mantra each year and in 2023 it will be:

life is for living, and I am living it.

Here’s to 2023, more peace, more awareness and greater clarity! πŸ™‚

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