I try to move from ‘knowing’ to ‘being’ in my life, and I consider myself a very reflective person. Knowing is important, but it is the reflection on the ‘why’ that really drives me. “If you don’t know where (and why?) you are going, you might not get there”, said the great Yogi Berra.
I believe self-care is very important for youth workers and trainers, and SALTO helped me a great deal in understanding and developing this part of my personality. During a SALTO SOHO training course I was running in Turkey a few years ago, my days were so full that I could hardly make use of the beautiful training centre environment, especially as the site had its own beach with a garden and pool!
My back was aching from too much sitting inside and not moving, and when the training was over, I finally took a chance to go to the pool. The evening was warm and the pool was lit, but on the way to my room I was approached by a participant from Turkey; a shy young woman.
It took her some time to finally ask me if I would give her feedback about her performance in group work, and it took me a few moments to respond. I did not want to give up on my chance to rest, but I felt she needed my feedback, and so suggested that we do both. It surprised her, but she agreed.
We calmly swam together beneath the lights and talked and laughed together as we reflected on her questions. At the end she admitted that during the whole week she did not dare to join the group by swimming, and despite being a morning person she felt awkward about swimming on her own. She thanked me for the chance to finally swim, as well as to reflect on some lessons. I was also happy to have helped someone with their learning, and at the same time look after my body and mind. I often wonder how it would have turned out if we had just talked, but the lesson I also learnt is that self-care is not selfish. By taking care of our own needs, we also show others that they are able to take care of their own, or in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘As we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’