Being a Celebrant, Being Myself!
I remember the first day of my first ever job in hospitality. I had been so excited to be offered a position, it wasn't until my mum dropped me off at the hotel where I would be living and working for an indefinite period of time, that the nerves kicked in. My stomach churned and I had the overwhelming desire to turn round and jump right back into the car. But I didn't. I picked up my suitcase, took a deep breath, glued a smile on and stepped through the doors, and into the start of an amazing and successful career, doing what I knew I was born to do.
Fast forward 35 years and there I was again. Standing outside the door of my local Funeral Director, having made the decision to become a celebrant and take my working life in a brand new direction. The temptation to step away, back into my comfort zone was pretty strong. But no. I took that breath, smiled and stepped on in. That afternoon I was offered my first ceremony.
Once again, this is something that I know I am born to do.
Fake it till you make it?
Although I have considerable experience in event management, as a celebrant who is still pretty fresh, I'm learning new things all the time, as I gain experience and build relationships. But I sometimes feel bamboozled in the face of so many different approaches, and so much advice. When I was training, one of the working funeral celebrants gave us all a tip; he said “fake it till you make it”. While this can be an effective skill, I believe that there has to be some substance behind it.
Properly interpreted, I think the concept is about ramping up my confidence, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and learning new things. Committing to things that provide learning experiences and new challenges raises my skill level. Faking it till I make it does not mean faking knowledge that I'll never bother to gain.
Being Truthful and Authentic
Successful social media influencer Matt Jackson socially-m talks about “social proof” and by that he means being able to do what you say you do. In other words, don't just act the part online, be prepared to do what it takes.
There are times when other people's ideas can be appealing and I find that it is great to absorb useful ideas and input. However, it can be tempting to take on everything, even it if is not my style. It's important to me to add what is uniquely my own.
For me this means being professional and dedicated, compassionate and empathic towards my clients, whatever the occasion; from a joyous wedding, to a heartfelt farewell. It also means acknowledging my own need for self-actualization, otherwise how can I truly put my heart and soul into my work? I love creating and performing, so writing and delivering a beautiful eulogy or ceremony answers that need in me.
To quote Bruce Lee, “always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not look for a successful personality to duplicate".
For me, being a celebrant is about telling a story. Your story. Whether your loved one's life story, or your own love story, my job is to tell it in the way that is memorable, and perfect for you. I was recently approached at a wedding event by a beautiful and vibrant lady who told me that she is battling a serious illness, which at some time in the next five years is likely to end her life. She told me “I really feel that I need to take some control over this thing”. With that in mind, she is planning to organise the celebration of her own life, involving a family party, and music from a CD that she is recording herself! I feel so privileged to be part of it.
In a nutshell, I am responsible for your day, your ceremony, and your special celebration, crafting your story and telling it well. I consider it a gift!