Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The holy grail of being "useful"

How many of us in our life goals wanted to do something useful? Not just for ego or for profit. Something that genuinely benefits others, addresses inequality in our society or specifically aims to assist the disempowered and the vulnerable? Of course, many of us working in a whole range of occupations do - human rights campaigners, environmental activists, journalists, nurses, lawyers, teachers, social workers, carers, youth workers, therapists, counsellors, charity workers, community organisers, MPs, doctors, vets and all the others I haven't mentioned.

I was recently reading a Facebook post by a very talented artist (@GillGamble), who it turns out spent a difficult year in medical school before realising that this evidently was not her vocation in life. Now as an artist and storyteller, she feels that finally she has found a role which is important and plays to her talents but which doesn't play to those conventional ideas of useful occupations.

I realised how much I had struggled with this notion of finding yourself a "useful" occupation and how, in fact, it is OK to sometimes let it go. Not because helping others isn't important. But sometimes, something you think of as "useful", an idea that you imposed on yourself at some point or was imposed upon you, isn't actually where your individual strengths lie.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Travelling solo...plus kids!

On New Year's Day, I flew with my three kids under 8 into the polar night to discover Tromsø in Northern Norway. Yes, it was a feat of organisational skill, patience, and determination that got us on that holiday but I'm so glad I did it. 

There were obviously moments that weren't on my list of holiday highlights. The little one kicking the aeroplane seat in front for hours as the poor girl tried to study for an exam. The little one jumping the queue at Norwegian passport control, bypassing the desk and disappearing through the doors! The little one clambering onto the baggage check in and heading up the baggage transport system (weight: 15kg, label: missing). The older two weren't saints either, but at least they can be reasoned with/bribed....

Kids' TV and the token female

In 2014, during what could be called a "gender balance uproar", the BBC had to confess that maybe all male panel shows were not all that great in the 21st century. Y'know from a diversity perspective. So we saw Sue Perkins, Jo Brand or Sarah Millican appear suddenly on every single show from QI to Have I got News for You?, their wit and truisms reduced to a tick next to "woman" on some BBC official's clipboard. Or maybe "comedienne".