Rania Turner-Ramadan is Assistant Principal at Nottingham Girls’ Academy and this is her story..
Putting your happiness first…
Unfortunately, the biggest barrier I have faced to date, was ‘dealing’ with my sexuality. Taking the decision to tell others, knowing that they wouldn’t be ok with it was one of the biggest and hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
Recognising that my happiness comes first, doesn’t come that easily to me, as I like to protect others. But on this occasion, I couldn’t protect them. I see now that it is somewhat easier for the LGBTQ+ community, but everyone still faces the worry of what their support network will think and how they will react.
I overcame this by staying true to myself and my values because once you strip us all down, we’re all the same underneath. I recognise now that in life you’re not going to make everyone happy and that someone will always undervalue, underestimate and question your actions, so why not do what makes you happy anyway, because you’ll never stop them. Empathy also let me overcome this barrier, listening to others, preparing for their reactions and understanding their opinions, allowed me to ‘manage’ situations so that they were diffused as quickly and pain-free where possible.
Atticus said ‘you never truly understand somebody until you walk around a little in their shoes’ and it is so true, I think about that quote all the time and how I can empathise with others and support them in the best way.
It has taken me a long time to recognise that you can’t please everyone. For someone like me, that likes to be liked, that doesn’t like confrontation and that doesn’t like to disappoint others, this can be a hard lesson to learn.
I think I only really came to terms with this a couple of years ago when I became Assistant Principal. There are always going to be decisions that are made that do not please everyone, but unfortunately, the show has to go on, because it is and always will be about the pupils, the decisions made in schools should always have the pupils best interests at heart. I handle this as best I can, gaining information from different sources, gathering peoples opinions on new projects or ideas to make sure that it is a collaborative approach where possible so that our colleagues are happy and feel valued in the decision making process.
However, sometimes time and pressure constraints do not always allow for that process to take place and that is where the pressure and responsibilities lie ahead. As long as the thought process is there and decisions are justifications and considered holistically then you have to assume that you have done everything possible to make the right decision.
I am so fortunate to have a community around me that supports my decisions and value who I am as a person. This doesn’t happen overnight and the sooner people recognise that ‘you’ choose who you want to be around the sooner they will be supported too.
I surround myself with people who want the same things if not more, who are successful, independent, who challenge my opinion and support my decisions so that I am always striving to achieve more and reach my potential.
I have support networks in different places, my family, my friends, my workplace, my sports teams, and my mum friends, the common theme that runs through all of these networks is that they share the same values as me and that is so important, they will applaud me with my triumphs and pick me up when I fall because they believe in what I do and stand for.
Both in and out of the workplace, I like to help others and I gain satisfaction in supporting others and watching them grow and achieve.
I am also motivated to be the best that I can be, I am always striving to do more, learn more and challenge myself.
My key motivator now more than ever is my daughter, staying strong, being a role model, facilitating the right path for her and supporting her no matter what will be my priority.
Investing in yourself.
I exercise as often as I can, being a stay at home Mum this can be a bit more tasking than usual. However, we have invested in gym equipment at home so that I can exercise when my daughter is in bed napping! I also make sure I have a massage once a month, this helps to relax me and helps with my exercise recovery.
I exercise to keep my headspace clear and I’m a very sociable person so spending quality time with my family and friends helps too. I play Australian rules football, so being around the team is important for my mental health. I’ve probably learnt how to be resilient through playing sport, minor setbacks, losing games, but being in a team or having that supportive network will always help me to keep trying and bounce back.
I have a positive mindset, some of my friends call me the ‘cheerleader’ so I guess staying positive and having a growth mindset is key to my resilience. That and sometimes you just don’t have a choice. I think even more so now that I am a parent, I’m not just being resilient for myself, I am being resilient for my daughter too.
Learning new skills, reading new research and having debates with my friends always helps develop the mind and keep up to date with what is going on.
I also love to bake! So filling up with goodies is always a good start, my go-to is banana bread. My friends would say yoghurt and muesli is my go-to though, I’m never too far away from a bowl of muesli! Key thing is to have a healthy balanced diet and not restricting yourself from nice treats, my most recent favourite is a trip to ‘Doughnotts’!
I’m lucky that my wife is a teacher too, so we understand each other’s work commitments outside the ‘working day’. You never finish work, always have a to-do list and there is always another lesson to plan or book to mark, so finding that balance can be difficult. We try to set times when we work at home and evenings where we don’t bring work home at all.
Communication is the key to finding that balance. Who knows what that will look like when we’re both back at work in September and looking after our daughter! Any tips please send them our way!
‘If you can’t control it then try not to worry about it’. We often worry too much about what others are doing and what they are thinking and it can blur your headspace.
If I have done everything that I can in my power to make something right, with all the right intentions and it still doesn’t please someone else, then I have to let that go and not worry about it, because there isn’t anything else that I can control in that situation. It helps with my headspace as I am a people pleaser, I hate saying no and I will overthink things if I have lead someone not feeling happy. So if I can do everything I can first and foremost, then I have to go by that mantra.
If you enjoyed this blog you can check out another one here! You can also head to the #YESSHECAN Website for more information about who they are