Many moons ago, when my daughter was in Sixth Form, the lady heading up the careers section at school called me. ‘We’ve got a evening planned for the girls Jane, where we’re helping them with their CVs and offering careers advice. Could you come along and help?’ I popped it into my diary without a thought and carried on with my day.
Ignorance is bliss.
I arrived at the school that evening and found my way to Ann, who was busy directing everyone to their seats and she pointed to mine. The event was being held in the main hall, which was imposing at the best of times, and she had highlighted a chair at the end of a semi circle of fifteen seats, which had been placed in front of many rows fast filling up with expectant pupils.
‘What is that?’ I enquired.
‘It’s for the panel of speakers, Jane.’
I gulped. ‘Speakers, what speakers?’
‘Well’ she smiled (yes, really) ‘you all give a short ten minute speech and then we reconvene in the library and the girls choose who they want to have a longer session with.’
It was a bit late in the day to suddenly be asking questions, so I went and sat down, silently praying for help.
I found myself seated to a lovely professor from a local University and we introduced ourselves and smiled at others on the panel. The evening started and the first speaker stood up and did his bit. It didn’t take a degree in rocket science to work out that each speaker was an expert in the fields of careers, human relations, marketing and public relations. I wasn’t and I was the last one in the row.
During a brief pause, I mentioned this to the new friend seated beside me. He confidently predicted that every single aspect of career advice would have been covered by the time they got to us.
‘What are you going to talk about?’ I squeaked at him.
‘I am going to fall back on being a professor and my chosen subject at University’ he grinned back at me.
‘It’s surprising how fast you can go off some people’ I hissed back at him, with a smile.
‘I’ll buy a coffee in the break’ he whispered.
So, like a bush fire out of control, it fast came to be my turn to speak and I remember that moment as if it was yesterday.
I stood up and looked along the rows at all the girls and smiled at them. Then I started to walk along slowly at the front and as I talked my hands wove expressions of their own. I spoke about inner sparkle and how each of them was unique. How they all have inner energy and they just needed to find the places where it could fly free. Testing, discovering, honing and learning to trust their own instincts as they went along. There was no such thing as mistakes, it was all about discovery. Honouring themselves and the sparkles they flew with along the way.
I spent time afterwards talking to some of them individually; about their hopes and dreams, supporting those who had no idea what their inner sparkle was yet and about the expectations being placed on them and how to weave in and around those. There were many shared hugs that night.
I was reminded about feeling our inner sparkle today, as I was nattering to a blogging friend in America about taking chances. Yesterday evening, us girls gathered for an Aqua Zumba session at the pool and as the ladies were gracefully lowering themselves into the water, a special buddy looked at me and winked.
‘I’m dive bombing in’ she said and launched herself in at the deep end.
I hesitated for a second and then took off after her. As we surfaced spluttering and creased with laughter, our inner sparkles called out in delight.
Note to selves: stop talking and close mouths before entering the water!