It’s Okay… To find things difficult

You don’t need to hide if you find things difficult

Can I tell you a secret? I sometimes find things difficult to do. Even writing this article was tricky at first – I tried to open up my document on my laptop to start typing and… nothing. Well, I got that spinning circle on my screen, which means that the computer is thinking about doing something, but nothing is actually happening. Eventually I had to switch the laptop off, turn it back on again and hope that it would start working. And do you know what? It did!

A laptop which works makes us happy!

There is another secret which you might not know – absolutely everyone finds things hard at times. Your parents, grandparents, friends, teachers… everyone. And there’s something else – sometimes people find the same things hard, while at other times we struggle with different things. For example, I find running up big hills quite difficult, but someone else – maybe you! – might find that super simple and easy. I think, though, that we would probably all find it quite hard to run up a mountain which was covered in treacle! Can you imagine a mountain covered in treacle? Wow, that would be a sticky mess!

Imagine covering this mountain in treacle and trying to climb it – probably tricky, but maybe fun!

There are many things which have the potential to make us struggle a bit. And do you know what? That’s okay! There is no rule written down anywhere which says that everything should be easy for everyone all of the time. Trust me, I’ve looked. Because everyone struggles, maybe that helps us to think about the things that we each find hard.

Take school, for example. There are loads of things which you do at school:

  • Sport
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Maths
  • History
  • Geography
  • Music
  • And so on, and so on, and so on.
Do you find art easy or difficult? What about your friends?

That’s a lot of stuff! Have a look at that list and see which things on there you would say you are good at. I bet there’s at least one on that list. Can you think of any more to add? Can you see any connection between the things that you are good at and the things you like? Quite often we find that we like the things we are good at, and we are not so keen on the things we find harder. That makes sense, so again, remember that it’s okay to feel like that.

When we do find things hard, it is also sometimes hard to ask someone else for help. Here are some possible reasons – see if you agree with any of them, or if you can think of any more. So, we might feel:

  • Scared
  • Worried that the teacher will be angry with us or too busy to help
  • Worried that people might laugh at us
  • Worried that we might not understand even after we’ve asked for help
  • Worried about standing out from everyone else for asking for help
  • Worried that everyone else apart from us understands
Does it sometimes feel like everyone else puts their hand up apart from you?

Guess what? These thoughts are really common and so, again, it is totally okay to have them. Although it is okay to have these thoughts, though, they aren’t very helpful, are they? They just leave us with a big knot of worry in our tummies. So, I have come up with some different thoughts for you to try and put in your head, to replace those worrying ones:

  • What if someone else in my class is also struggling with the problem, and also feels scared to ask? I could really help me and them out by asking for help. I’m going to do it!
  • The last time someone asked for help in class, no-one laughed at them. Hmm, that means that they probably won’t laugh at me either. Right, I’m going to do it!
  • The last time someone asked for help in class, the teacher didn’t shout at them. Hmm, that means that I probably won’t get shouted at either. Right, I’m going to do it!
  • If I don’t understand after it has been explained to me, well, that’s really not something for me to worry about. I need to tell the person that I didn’t understand, because they need to know they didn’t really explain very well and they need to try again for me. I deserve to understand as well as everyone else in my class.

Do you see the difference? These thoughts show that we all deserve to understand as well as anyone else round about us, and there are things we can do to help with that. There are also things that other people can do to help – but they need to know first, so try to take that first step and ask the questions you need to. If you don’t manage to ask when the whole class is sitting together, you could maybe go to the teacher’s desk or you could ask just before you go for break or for lunch.

Teachers and other adults are here to help

Guess what? Sometimes things that we are worried about feel huge in our heads and in the rest of our bodies. But guess what? There is usually a solution which is quick and easy to find, and which can make that huge problem shrink like a balloon which has been popped.

Burst those problem balloons!

Remember: It’s Okay:

  • to find things difficult
  • to worry about asking for help

But, remember: It’s Okay:

  • to speak up and ask for that help
  • to check again if the answer wasn’t clear
  • to change your thoughts, to make the big worries into popped balloons with quick and easy solutions.

Two things to try:

  • Ask your teacher or parent/carer for help with something you have been unsure about
  • Instead of saying, ‘I don’t know’, ask, ‘How can I find out?’, or ‘How can I better understand?’
Think of the difficult things in a different way and see if it helps


On being the parent of a 9 year old

If I had been doing any other job for 9 years, you’d probably expect me to be pretty good at it. At the very least, I would be expected to know what I need to do each day when I turn up for work. Having been a parent for 9 years though, I find myself almost as clueless as I was on day one. At least back then I had nurses, health visitors and midwives hovering around in the background who I could glance at helplessly.

Helpful nurses
Look, smiling, helpful and reassuring!

Well now. Some days I feel on top of the world with my 9 year old. We get on, we chat, we laugh, we understand each other. I ask her to do her homework? She does it, without being asked twice. I don’t even have to ask her to help clear up the dinner plates, or to brush her teeth at bedtime. I know, amazing, right?

Our family, on a good day

Other days? Dare I say it, at the moment, the majority of days? There is attitude, there is a smug smile and a defiant twinkle in the eyes. There is basically very little chance that we are going to end the day on the best of terms. This is because she knows how to push the buttons which get me from zero to hot-headed banshee in 2.2 seconds. And don’t we all know how it goes – when the anger comes in, the control is lost and it is very difficult to bring it back.

Now, the premise of this whole website is that feelings, of whatever description, are okay. In that vein, anger is okay – it is at least understandable. What needs to be done though, is to find a way through the anger, and to deal with it quickly and efficiently in order to provide the best possible role model for the little person (don’t tell her I called her a little person, whatever you do).

In trying to calm myself down from tonight’s confrontation – I am not proud of myself, before anyone lambasts me – I did a quick online search for other websites covering the behaviour of 9 year old girls. I have found this, and man, I really needed to read this tonight.

I am leaving it here for now – if you have kids, particularly girls, of this age, I recommend you read the above link. It gives perspective, and it also serves as a reminder that you are not alone.

World Mental Health Day

Tomorrow, 10 October, is World Mental Health Day. It is the perfect day for me to launch this website: mental health is one of the key features of this site which will hopefully soon become very apparent!

This website is a safe space. It is safe because I have been through many things in my life which have granted me great empathy and there is no judgement here. The main premise of Say It’s Okay is that we all have feelings, both good and bad, and that’s okay. For example, it is okay to feel sad, it is okay to feel worried, and it is okay to feel blue. There are ways of coping with these feelings, but the basic premise is that we should not shy away from them.

I have been messing around with this website for weeks, thinking to myself that by 10 October I will have managed to get it all singing and all dancing and looking simply fabulous. Well, guess what? I haven’t managed (yet!) to make it so, but that is not important for now. That will come. And indeed, I am trying to view my website a bit like a mirror of my life. For, after all, when will our lives ever look perfect and when will we be all singing and all dancing?

For now, please know that you are welcome, whether you are 5 or 65. Content will be added in the coming days and weeks, which will hopefully help you with your worries and concerns, hopes and fears.

If there is anything you would like me to focus on, let me know – I want this to be a joint effort!

And please, be patient – I will continue working hard to get this website looking ‘just so’. Or, at least, ‘good enough’, for isn’t that all we can hope for?