Hello, you.

Hello 2019 Steph, it’s me… 2018 Steph.

How are you? What day is it that you’re reading this? What made you come back to this post? Remember you can come back to this post any time you need it. I know you won’t because you’re stubborn and proud and HATE admitting you need help. Don’t worry, we’re going to work on that together. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help, you need a break, you’re sad, you’re not ok… all of that is great because you know what? You’re not a superhuman, you’re not perfect: you’re HUMAN. So stop beating yourself up about the times you’re not perfect and just accept that they’re going to happen. (I wasn’t going to start writing to you in this way, but what will be will be!) Reader: Do you have a cup of tea? Cause I could be here a while, rambling away.

So 2018 was an incredible year, was it not? You graduated, you got hired to teach this amazing bunch of kids, became a teacher, won a blogging award, chaired a few amazing panels, saw your favourite people in the world, ate some incredible breakfasts, discovered some things about yourself that you didn’t know, went through some pretty rough patches and laughed a lot. Remember that thing everyone always says about your laugh? Try to remember it. You KNOW your laugh is amazing, use it as often as you can. Your kids, your friends, your family: they’ll all help you to use it as often as you can. Life’s not all peaches and cream, we both know that, but there’s people around you who can lift you up when you’re not feeling cush.

Let’s really get into this, shall we? We’ll start with the biggest part of your identity at the minute. Miss Elliott. The teacher you. The thing you’ve strived for for SO long and now you have it. Teaching is mint. It’s hard. It’s shitty some days. There’s politics we don’t want to be involved with, but unfortunately that comes with the job. Working hard got you to where you are now, but don’t for ONE minute stop trying to be the very best you can be. It’s what you deserve, it’s what those kids who you properly adore deserve: the best Miss Elliott there is. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably ISN’T. And always remember to follow your heart. It’ll be the best for everyone. It’ll mean you enjoy what you’re doing and that’s good for everyone. Give yourself a bit more credit and stop being so hard on yourself. You’re REALLY good at your job: no one can fault your passion, determination and love for it. You’re going to have bad days, bad lessons, tired days, snappy days… that’s just human nature. Try not to wallow on them. Shake them off and just move on. Remember the WHY you started teaching and those 30 brilliant little people in front of you and you should be OK. But if you’re not… tell someone. You’re surrounded by an incredible bunch of people (in school and online) and they will help – they’ve proven that, time and time again.

So yeah, teaching takes over your life. We both know that. We both know that you don’t do well in the holidays because you feel you lack purpose, routine and structure to your life. And that’s OK. Just don’t let it become the ONLY thing you associate with the holidays. Use them to recharge, relax and DO THINGS. That part of your identity is sorted now, or at least for the time being, so we need to start looking forward to the other bits of your identity that WE BOTH KNOW have been abandoned.

The dating world is a mess. We’ve had a mixed bag so far on the old dating front. Ghosting wasn’t a pleasant experience, so just remember the way you felt before you decide it’s easier to not confront a problem than to confront a problem head on. Yes, yes, we spend our whole time worrying about things which are insignificant. If someone isn’t going to be interested in you because of the way you look then let’s be real, you’re better off without them. Dating does your head in, but try not to let it get to you. You’ll like people who don’t end up liking you back. You’ll like people who aren’t ready to like you back. You’ll be put in situations where you’re just a second choice and we both know that’s not what you want. You’ve been the secret before, you really don’t want that again. Don’t put yourself through less than what you absolutely deserve. Find someone who gives you what you need. Be a bit more selfish  (I know, I know, we’re not good at that, but maybe that’s what we need!) Someone isn’t going to show up and instantly be the perfect person for you… that’s too easy… but being out there and putting yourself out there raises the chances that maybe, just maybe, someone who could be brilliant is out there. (I know you hate the whole dating game, I know. It’s horrible and its unfair and it’s shitty, but persevere and be kind to yourself!)

Remember you have this amazing family. I know you feel like a bit of an outsider at times, but you don’t need to. They’re there to make you feel included. They’re there to love you. Go see the twigs more. Look forward to baby Redshaw being born. Talk to your brother more – he is one of the wisest owls in the world (he does your head in sometimes, but that’s his job).

Keep blogging. It’s good for your soul. Talk about the things you want to talk about. The things that make you happy, the things that make you sad. The things that you find hard to talk about, the things you wanna shout about. You don’t just have to talk about the things other people are talking about. This is your blog. They’re your rules. I know you get bogged down in “oh but that blog is so much more beautiful/well planned/well written” than mine. But that’s cause that’s THAT blog. This is your space to ramble and chat and cry whenever you like. You need to make time to do it because it’s SO BLOODY GOOD for your brain. Keep shouting about the books you love. Make room on this here blog for so much love.

My one wish for you, 2019 Steph, is that you be the very best version of you that you can be. None of this “new year, new me” shit. Just be the best you you can be, not for anyone else, but for YOU. YOU deserve it over everyone else.

Now go and read a book, or text someone you love, or write a letter,

S x


Letter to: 2018 me.

Hi Steph,

It’s January 1st. I’ve a cup of a tea and I’m writing this letter to you. I know you’re going to be a bit stressed this year and you’re going to have to make some hard choices. Think back to this time last year: you hadn’t written your dissertation yet; you were on the SCITT course but you hadn’t started; you were blogging but not sure what direction you wanted to take it; you knew you had dreams you wanted to follow, but were unsure how to follow them. Now I’m here January 1st 2018 to tell you that putting your mind to things will get them done.

I’ve not bothererd with resolutions because we both know if you were going to change it, you’re stubborn enough to change it then and there. I may not have resolutions, but I do have things for you to think about, for those times you’re having a rough day. 

Keep following your dreams: it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have rubbish lessons, you’re also going to have brilliant lessons. There’s going to be times you don’t want to write that stupid 6 page lesson plan, and you don’t want to do this or that… but all of these things will ensure you achieve your dreams. You’ve come this far and you know this is what you’re meant to do. Teaching is the one thing you’re destined for. You’re born for this. So keep going. Don’t give up because it’s hard; KEEP GOING because it’s hard. It’s hard because it’s new. It’s scary because it’s new. It won’t be new or hard or scary once you’ve done it a few times. Trust me. I’ve done new and scary and hard things in 2017. They’re OK. You’re OK.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: you’re so scared of doing things wrong, or making a fool of yourself that you forget it’s OK to make mistakes. You’ve been told on more than one occasion that the kids aren’t afraid to make mistakes in your classroom, that they know it’s OK to ask questions and make errors and fix those errors, so be like them. Follow their example. Let the way they feel in your classroom be the way you feel in your life. 

Allow yourself time: whether that’s time to read because your head is so far in a textbook that you’ve forgotten what fiction is like; time to be sad because you’ve had a rubbish day or a rubbish lesson and you don’t know how to make it right; time to breathe because you’re frustrated and don’t know what the answer is. Whatever it is you need time for, allow yourself it. If it’s being happy then be happy. It’s so much easier to get lost in the bad things and the negative things… remember all those lovely things, all the positives. Don’t get bogged down in negative. It’s easier said than done, but try.

Keep blogging and reading: they’re your outlets. Blog because you want to. Blog because it makes you happy. Blog because you’ve found a place in the world where you can talk about whatever you want to talk about and people can choose to read or not. Read the books you want to read. Don’t read what others are reading if you don’t want to. Reading is your escape. It’s looking after your brain. Do what is good for looking after your brain. So what you read 112 books last year? If you only manage 5, that’s 5 more than 0. Blog about whatever you want. Those happy posts are good for the brain. Book reviews are excellent. Whatever it is you want to talk about, blog it. People will read or they won’t. It doesn’t really matter. 

Remember people are there to help: you’re stubborn and don’t ask for help. People will help. If it’s work things, ask the people you trust. If it’s blogging things, ask the people you trust to help. People will help. People are inherently good. They want to help. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It’s great that you can do lots of these things, but doing EVERYTHING is only going to exhaust you. You’ve gotta let people help.

While we’re on the topic of other people, stop letting what other people (especially the ones who don’t know you or your story) say bother you: the people who love you and the people you trust may say things which hurt, but they’re probably only trying to help. 

Last thing… be kind. Always. Kindness costs nothing. Find time to be kind to yourself as well as others. You’re just as important as them. Kindness matters.