Thursday was an important day for me. I attended a job interview at Blackburn College and was successful in my application for the post of part-time lecturer in counselling. An 18.5 hour contract in the place where I have enjoyed more than ten years as an hourly paid lecturer. I am very happy and excited to be given this contract, it's an exciting time for our expanding range of counselling courses at the University Centre.
Something unexpected happened during Thursday which has had a major impact. It was the amount of support, the good wishes and the affection I felt from so many people. There were Facebook comments, text messages and emails, as well as the support from friends and colleagues all around the building. I felt loved and valued to a degree I have not experienced since my counselling diploma ended ten years ago. I think I played a part in that too. I let people know that I was going for the job, I asked for help and gave people opportunities to offer kind words and encouragement. I think the old me (and it still happens) was too mistrusting of people and too frightened of feeling rejected to ask for help. Of course this does my friends a disservice and denies me the love I need and deserve.
As well as feeling loved I felt a strong sense of belonging. As I walked around the University Centre I knew so many people and have known many of them for such a long time. I attended the college as a 17 year old in 1986 to retake my 'O' Levels. A couple of my good friends were teachers back then, teaching government and politics and helping me get into university. That's not to say I am institutionalised. I've worked in private industry, the voluntary sector and for the probation service. When I worked in the private sector and with probation I never had a sense of belonging and neither job enabled me to live my mission quite like teaching at Blackburn College.
So, lots of learning from this week. If I continue being open about my feelings, ask for help and offer love and respect to others, then I create opportunities to feel love in return. I can travel all the way up Maslow's hierarchy of needs: to esteem and self-actualisation. I am not a religious person but I am sure Ecclesiastes had it right: 'Cast thy bread upon the waters and it shall be returned unto thee".