Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing

Focus
I’m like you. I say with confidence, “I can multi-task”. Because yes, I can walk and talk at the same time, I can scroll Instagram while eating cereal, and I can run four businesses at once. Those things may be true, but I can’t do them well. I can walk and talk at the same time because walking doesn’t take active thought for me, my body just knows how to do it. I can scroll and eat but I often end up with milk on my shirt or missing the bowl when I get into a post. I have tried to do all the things and failed.
What happened when I tried to do all the things, is everything suffered. I split my attention and each thing I wanted to learn, do, and start, got a fraction of me instead of all of me. The result from me giving a lot of things a little attention was none of them becoming what they had the potential to be. I had to step back and decide which one thing I wanted to focus on, which one thing did I want to see all the way through to fruition, first. I, like you, can do lots of things, I have lots of ideas and interests, and get excited to jump into new things. But as complex as we are, and as much as we are sometimes able to do more than one thing at a time, our best work is put out into the world when we focus on just one thing and do it extremely well.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  -Stephen Covey
As much as I love this blog and will continue to work on Launch as an organization, I had to make the hard and conscious decision to focus on writing. I am a writer, and for me to write books worth reading, I have to take a short break from everything else. It’s not easy, I’m writing this blog post right now riddled with guilt because I’m not writing my book, but I wanted to share why there hasn’t been anything posted here as well as encourage you to focus. Get the first thing done and then work on the next thing. Use your downtime to learn, practice, and indulge in your other passions, but buckle down and spend the majority of your time on the one main thing.
Talk soon.

 

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Depression

DEPRI thought I was exempt.
I never thought all the posts and tweets would ring true of me. I didn’t know the warning signs or ways to avoid it, but I was still certain I would be an exception. I was aware of people who were diagnosed with clinical depression or who were living with emotional depression, but I was always outside of it… until November.
Ambushed
It was the week of Thanksgiving 2016, a normal Monday, when I sat down to do a final check of the posts that were scheduled to go live on my blogs, newsletters, IG and Twitter accounts that week. After checking those tasks off the list, I was ready to move on to the next task, but as I tried to start, there was nothing. Not that there was nothing to do, there was plenty to be done, there was just nothing within me. I still don’t have the words to explain how it felt, and that may be because what I felt, was nothingness. Every ounce of desire to write, encourage, teach, talk, or work was gone.
I thought, maybe I need to eat or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep, and when those two physiological level of needs were met and nothing improved, I assumed it was a case of sudden writer’s block. So I closed my laptop, cleaned, and watched a movie, certain that Tuesday and Wednesday would be enough time for me to redeem my unproductive Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday brought much of the same, so since if was a short work week anyway, I chalked up Thanksgiving week as a loss. By Sunday night, I knew that barring a miracle, the upcoming week was not going to go well. When Monday arrived, not only was I unable to sit down and start working, I had little desire, and barely enough strength, to sit up.
All I could do, was be.
Anger
Anger is familiar. It’s my go-to emotion when I don’t understand things. After a year plus of counseling, the anger is now easily identifiable, but it’s still comforting like an old friend.
I was angry that ‘it’ (it didn’t have a name yet) was happening and that I didn’t know what ‘it’ was and why ‘it’ had chosen me. The gall. I was angry at myself for not knowing how to get from under the weight of it and not knowing how to change the unbearable sadness to happiness. I was angry that I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain that it was heavier and deeper than sadness and angry because I hadn’t yet realized ‘it’ isn’t cured by reminding oneself they have ‘nothing to be sad about’. I was angry that I couldn’t fix it, that I couldn’t fix me- “What kind of weak person can’t fix themselves?” was my internal dialogue. I was angry that I didn’t have anyone who could not only handle hearing about it, but who could try and help me deal with and get out of it. I was angry because it was just another thing I had to hide and pretend didn’t exist and I was angry that it happened at such an inconvenient time. I was furious that no matter how much I indulged, no playlist, audiobook, TED talk, YouTube video, or Netflix movie made it go away.
Acceptance
Within a couple of days I went from anger to acceptance and I told God that as much as I wished He’d “take this from me”, I was willing to live in this as long as I needed. I just asked that it be worthwhile, that when it ended, I would learn from it and be able to help others through the same.
As silly as it sounds, I kinda think I brought it on myself. I think it was due me for putting online the challenge of living transparently. There I was, all… “Let’s start a movement!”, then bam. Silence. Darkness. A few weeks prior to ‘D’ day, I posted a video on YouTube called Dear Creators where I challenged YouTubers to be more transparent. I changed Launch’s Twitter banner to read, “Transparent Living: Telling your truth, not your business” and made that the unofficial slogan of the Launch website. Here I was spearheading the charge for transparency and encouraging others to create, share, and speak their truth, and I was invisible.
How lame. How disappointing. What if Malcolm X or MLK Jr. would’ve been all, “Let’s do something!” and then disappeared? Great things don’t happen when you proclaim change and then take no action toward said change. Change requires action, but, I physically could not.
I wanted people to unmask and not hide what was really going on with them and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to share, there was nothing to share. How do you actually spell, ‘ehh’ because that’s all an honest blog post would have said. How many synonyms for ‘numb’ are worth tweeting? I had no words to offer the world. Darkness and weight don’t have a vocabulary, the silence is part of the punishment. When you rely on written word to express yourself, and understand the world around you, and those whom inhabit it, and the words are taken from you, you have nothing.
I flew to the East Coast to spend the holidays with my family and published nothing for months. I wrote little more than 1-3 line memos in my phone and screenshot more quotes and posts about depression than anyone should. I allowed myself to wake when I wanted and nap when I wanted, I hung out with those in my tribe who fill me and didn’t talk to, or do anything I knew would drain me. I did what I wanted, (for the most part) and I did so without guilt or speaking harshly to myself. I ate healthy foods during the day and lulled myself to sleep with sugary snacks at night (I do not recommend). I was in survival mode.
When 2017 rolled in, I decided to live in truth. I started saying “no” more, and fake smiling, less. I use my genuine, albeit flat, monotoned voice instead of an inauthentic, higher octave for the comfort of others. I have not replied to texts or answered calls when I haven’t felt like it, and I’ve not shouldered the issues of others, as per my old usual.
Most importantly, I realized (and accepted) that I was depressed.
Ascription
I don’t remember the moment or post that lead me to properly ascribing everything I was feeling to depression. All I know is I was never more thankful for social media and all the people who courageously used it, who risked vulnerability, and who vocalized their feelings and thoughts about their depression. The more I read the more I understood and the less alone I felt. I knew that clinical depression, (right or wrong) was said to be caused by a chemical imbalance and people took medicine to manage it. I also knew it wasn’t something that could be fixed by ‘doing something fun’ or telling people to ‘choose happiness’.
Emotional depression however, I knew very little about. Having lived with it for months now, I can tell you it’s feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It’s being simultaneously aware of everything and wanting to take part in life, yet feeling nothing; it was numbness and craving emotion. I wanted to write, produce, contribute, and create but had no ability to do so. I had to make myself get out of the bed so I didn’t (emotionally) die in it. Throughout the day I’d promise myself that the weight and darkness would soon be over, though I had no clue whether it ever would.
Depression saved my life.
It has been a slow lifting of the fog, one I’m grateful for. It didn’t automatically get better when I changed zip codes, but it began to lighten as I poured out what little I had, into those I love (maybe because my mind focused more on them than it did on me).
It was winter, but I found the sunshine.
I moved my body and fed it more micronutrients.
I paused the people and situations that drained me.
I allowed myself to have days of mundanity.
I didn’t beat myself up or punish myself for not writing or hustling (In fact, I completely let go of the hustle propaganda.).
I cried and prayed.
I survived.
I tried to make the 21st of Jan, Feb, and March the end point, tried to wrap the depression up nicely on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd month anniversary of its arrival, but things you don’t control don’t work that way. I began to see the light again on April 3rd, I remember feeling it, and now, mid-May, here I am, physically and mentally able to begin again.
Action
I don’t know what happens next.
This is new to me, so as much as I hope it’s a one-and-done situation, I don’t know if it’s something I’ll slip back into. I’m grateful for the depression and I’m glad to be on the other side of it. I’m appreciative of the time I was sustained and allowed to simply exist without producing. It’s been 182 days between my last post and this one; that’s 6 months of my life.
Welcome back.

Learning How To Stay Focused

cointracker16-1
You’re a creative person with a giving heart and big dreams. You want to be happy and successful, give back to others, and leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren. But, you don’t even know how to stay focused long enough to complete one task or check off one goal, let alone a life’s worth.
Focus is a multi-armed monster, and today’s arm is the concept of your quiver full of arrows. Archers keep their arrows in a bag called a quiver; they pull one arrow at a time, set in on the shelf of the bow, nock the arrow to the string, and focus on their target. To focus on what they’re hoping to hit, they silence the noise around them. They carry nothing with them that doesn’t improve their chances of success.
You, with all your dreams and talents have many things you like, movies you watch, people with whom you associate, and distractions; you must learn to quiet the noise. Turn down the volume of your life and only allow in people and things that will help you hit your target. The only things in your quiver must be things that will help you succeed.
I’m a football fan. I enjoy watching football and if I allow myself I can indulge in all of the talk that surrounds the game, teams, and players. From sports radio and tv channels to football Twitter accounts and friends and family, there’s no shortage of ways to satiate my football indulgence. This football season however, I have opted out. I decided to say no to all things sports related in the name of focusing. I am learning how to stay focused.
There’s nothing wrong with football, sports, or entertainment, but to remain focused, my quiver can contain only things that help me hit my target. Just because there’s nothing wrong with it doesn’t mean it’s something I need to spend time on right now. Besides, the athletes I’d be watching are already living their dreams. I, however, am not yet, and therefore must focus.
Before you decide that an inability to focus is your problem, make sure it’s not just a lack of target clarity. If you know exactly what your one (and only one at a time) target is, then focus begins by checking your quiver.
What’s in your quiver? If you have your sights set on a goal, a specific target, what you allow in your life’s quiver must not only help you hit your target, but it must not draw you farther from your target. 

The more detractors and distractions you allow, the farther your target gets and the harder it becomes to focus.The more distractions you allow, the farther your target gets & the harder it is to focus.

My example of football is a simple one because I can simply remove the people and things (arrows) that have to do with football and replace them. For you, whatever your target, removing the arrows may mean literally cutting off friendships, turning off your phone or notifications, or giving up something you enjoy for a short time.
The quiver test- does it help me hit the mark? Not will it in the future or could it possibly? Answer in one second, does it right now help you reach your goal? If there’s hesitation or the answer is no, remove it. You can justify why you should keep it/them all you want, but lying to yourself only hurts you.
Our world is loud and our lives are noisy. From notification lights and sounds, to people who won’t be quiet, our days are full of distractions. It is your job to filter the noise and fill your quiver, meaning equip yourself and fill your life, with only the people and things that will help you hit the bullseye. Once you do, you’ll have time to indulge in those distractions before setting up to hit the next target.
Focus is about deciding what’s important, consistently reminding yourself of your target, keeping your goal in mind, and training your thoughts and actions to do only the things associated with the task before you.

Dear Youtube Creators

dea
About a year ago I had the idea to compile all of the moments of honesty and vulnerability that I had seen from YouTube creators. I put that idea off for a while because it seemed like the amount of time it would take to compile all those clips could be time better spent creating something of my own.
Last week, after seeing another creator share a real-life hard truth, I decided it was a video worth making and would be time well-spent. I looked through my YouTube subscription box and found YouTubers who had uploaded videos where they shared something personal, got honest about things on their mind, and who’d risked vulnerability and let their viewers in. People don’t talk about the hard things going on in their private lives, so when someone does, especially someone with a large following, I remember.
I chose 20 YouTube creators I’m subscribed to and featured their real-life moments as well as my words in a video called, “Dear Creators” that is on the Launch youtube channel.
The purpose of the video is to ask content creators (those featured and the thousands not featured) to join the movement of transparent living. I know Youtubers, vloggers especially, like to upload videos that are happy, positive, and well-edited. And I know we all like to keep aesthetically pleasing social media feeds and to snap and tweet the fun and happy parts of our lives. That is the highlight reel, the collection of picture perfect, movie-worthy moments that we are grateful to experience and that we should have lots of. There’s nothing wrong with a highlight reel, I sincerely hope you have lots of wonderful moments and memories in life.
The danger of a highlight reel life comes when there’s no balance. When there are no “low-lights”, that’s an inaccurate depiction of a real life, because real life is full of highs and lows. I mean, I get it, sharing real moments may mean losing followers or having to deal with haters, but only sharing the good is dishonest.
Some of the best conversations occur as a result of letting people in. Look at the amount and depth of the comments under videos where creators share about things going on in their lives. Those moments resonate deeply with people because we’re not always open or honest about the things we’re dealing with. We convince ourselves that no one can relate to us, and we hide our problems, when in reality, there are thousands of people going through similar situations.
I know the value, benefits, and freedom that come from sharing, for both the person opening up and those who listen. I hope you, as a creator continue to put out content that is fun, happy, and visually stunning because you do have a great life, most of us do, and I like watching what you upload. I hope you will take the transparency pledge. This call to action is a call for balance, not sharing one moment of pain for every moment of happiness, because hopefully your life contains an abundance of happy. Balance, not equal, meaning an honest sharing of your your not-so-good days amidst all the great days to remind those watching, that you too are human.
We know the power the YouTube platform holds. We have a powerful potential to start a movement, to be the people who no longer push their issues aside or ignore them, but who face what’s going on and to seek help with resolving them. Let’s be the people who tell our truth and not our business and who are happy instead of faking happy.
You can find the pledge page at launchyoungadults.org\pledge; it’s a simple call to action I hope you’ll live by. We, the most globally connected, technology savvy group of people have the ability to enjoy each other’s happiness and be a source of comfort for each others’ sadness. Pledge to share your reel and your real.
Featured YouTube Creators:
BfvsGf | The Michalaks | SuperwomanVlogs | Gabby- Gabriella Lindley & Gabriella
Joey Graceffa  | Dose of Fousey  | Travis Williams | More Zoella | Kevin Edwards Jr2 & ADayWithKev | WhenTheKidsGoToSleep | Jim Chapman | pixiwoo | BaileyLiving
SamanthaMariaVlogs | Latoya’sLife | SprinkleofChatter | bitsandclips | ProductJunkieXoxo
PsychoSoprano | Grace Helbig

An Interview with Siobhan Curham

Siobhan
I was familiar with the name Siobhan Curham, so when I checked out her blog and saw she’d written a book called ‘True Face’, I was intrigued. I decided to get in touch with her and after a friendly exchange, she invited me to write a piece regarding the difficulty of dreaming in the midst of racism. You can read my guest post on her blog here.
Though not her current book, Siobhan was kind enough to answer some questions regarding ‘True Face’. Like the work of Launch, Siobhan recognizes the importance of authentic living and helping young adults shed their masks and lead a life unmasked.
When did you first recognize young adults not showing their ‘True Face’?
s-c“I do a lot of work in high schools giving talks and running workshops and I see the pressure on young adults to be something they’re not. That pressure has always existed, but it’s more prevalent today with the online world and social media. Young adults are constantly being told how to look, act and be, and so often they’re being presented with an image of perfection that isn’t even real or achievable, for example the air-brushed photos or carefully edited highlights reel of a celebrity’s Instagram feed.”
What led you to writing ‘True Face’ specifically for girls?
s-c
“My novels for young adults are for girls so my publisher wanted True Faceto be pitched at that same market. However, as the mom of a teenage son, I’m acutely aware that boys are under just as much pressure to “fake it” to fit in. As a woman, I’m not sure I’m qualified to talk about the male experience, as it is different to that of girls. I feel that a male writer would probably do a better, more authentic job of writing on this subject for boys.”
Did teenage Siobhan show the world her true face? Why or why not?
s-c“I began to mask after my parents split up and my mom left. Her leaving was a massive shock to me and I can remember thinking, I must never let another person close enough to hurt me like that again. So I put on a mask of indifference and tried to numb the pain with alcohol and drugs. The irony is, I only ended up hurting myself more. My education suffered and I made some really bad relationship choices. It took me a long time to find the self-love needed to find my way back to my true self. This was a major factor in me writing True Face – I wanted to give young adults the tools and exercises needed to remove their masks a lot quicker, to help them avoid wasting years of their life in fear and pain.”
How can we empower and teach more young adults to live authentically?
s-c“By showing our own authentic selves and speaking up about our so-called imperfections and making it cool to be different. We can share tools that help boost confidence and self-belief and teach young adults to honor their passions and follow their dreams no matter how different from the so-called ‘norm’ they might be.”
How can creators and influencers collectively do a better job of helping others live authentically?
s-c“By coming together to launch initiatives, speaking out on our social media, opening our platforms for young people to have a voice. Collectively, we can force against all the phony crap young people are bombarded with by certain sections of the media.”
Huge thanks to Siobhan for her work and interview.
sSiobhan Curham is an award-winning author of several books for adults and children including Finding Cherokee Brown, True Face, Dear Dylan– which won the Young Minds Book Award in 2010, and The Scene Stealers. Siobhan is also an editorial consultant, motivational speaker and life coach, and has written for a variety of publications including The Guardian and Cosmopolitan. You can buy a copy of her book True Face here, and read about what she’s currently working on her blog.

Two Truths. No Lies.

cointracker16I have a friend who doesn’t tell the truth.
I don’t call her a liar, (although that’s what you’d call a person who doesn’t tell the truth) because she doesn’t know she’s lying. To her, she’s telling the truth as she understands things in the moment. It’s not until things go wrong that she realizes she chose to ignore the red flags and warning signs.
After the guy she was head over heels in love with, broke her heart, then she clearly saw the red flags. Post-breakup she told me parts of his story she’d previously left out- his relationship history, the vices he indulged in, his behavior when he got angry.
In the beginning, I was happy for her, I encouraged her to pursue her relationship with him based on what she’d told me, because I believed she was painting a complete and accurate picture of him. When I asked her why she’d left out the ‘bad’ when sharing the ‘good’, she said she thought she was telling the full story. The truth is, she wanted so badly for him to be ‘the one’ that she chose to ignore the things that later eroded their relationship. She lied to herself for so long that she believed it as truth.
Tell yourself the truth, first. The more you lie, the less trustworthy you become.
Ever seen the Youtube challenge tag called, “Two Truths, One Lie”? One person states 3 things and another person guesses which two are true and which is the lie. That’s cute for a harmless video, but it’s detrimental in life. It’s bad enough to lie to other people, but it’s truly damaging to lie to yourself. If you can’t trust you, no one else will either. Tell yourself the truth, your word is all you have.
A lie is anything that erodes a person’s ability to trust you.
Tell the truth no matter how ugly, hard, or how much you wish it were different. Then you can start the work of making the ugly truth, prettier.

Two Mistakes I Hope You Never Make

Episode 53 of the seanwes podcast was my first podcast. Ever.
I consumed it all and freeloaded until I was told that I was a freeloader.
I paid for a one-month membership (to the seanwes community) and didn’t use it.
Mistake#1

In 2012 I “overlapped”, before doing so had a name. I worked a full-time job (that didn’t exhaust me) and I saved enough money to live on for a year. I quit that job June of 2012, and ten months later an injury forced me to move across the country, back home with my mom, exactly what every 33 year old wants. Not.

I had a choice, anger or action.
I chose action. I chose action after a month of sulking. Mistake #2
When the sulking was over I taught myself WordPress, plugins, and enough html and css to make a respectable website. I borrowed my brother’s camera and learned photography basics. I wrote blog posts, newsletters, scripts, and tweets. I recorded, edited and uploaded videos of myself and others. I woke up early and wrote 1k+ words per day and turned it into a book. I funeralized my bio dad and stepdad within a year, which reconfirmed that life is but a vapor, and that time waits for no man.

Everyone is waiting on me. They don’t know it, but everyone my life and its work will touch, is waiting on me to perform, produce, and build a business.

The longer I underperform, the more people I let down.
For me to improve and my business to grow, I needed to find my tribe. I needed to surround myself with a group of people who were smarter than I, and who thought like me.

I joined the seanwes community July 1, 2016 and forced myself to be all-in for 60 days (instead of 30 so I couldn’t get my money back). Yesterday was day 60. I’ve wanted to cancel my membership a few times. I’ve doubted whether it was the place for me, whether I can be of help to others and whether others could or cared to help me. I don’t always say the “right” things in there; I’m still learning. Along with being introverted, I have a sarcasm and east coast air that doesn’t always translate well in text, so I usually just read what others write and stay quiet, but I return every day. I know as I settle further in, I’ll be of value to others, as they have been to me. For years I let the cost of entry deter me. I was right to be cautious, but wrong in being fearful; the experience has been priceless.

I tell you all the time to surround yourself with people who are on or above your level, people who match or exceed your ambition. I was a hypocrite in telling you that, because I wasn’t doing the same. I thought I could go it alone, and for years I did. After years of building what I thought was a business, 60 days into being a community member, it feels like I’m back to square 1, as though I did it all wrong for all those years. If I allow, I can let the thoughts of wasted years and time beat me down, but I don’t.

When you know better, you do better.
I shared in the last post that changes for Launch are coming, those changes are the direct result of investing in myself, my work, and ultimately, you.

If you have a hobby or passion you’d like to turn into a business, if you have a product or service you want to grow- find your tribe. I recommend the seanwes community of course.

Whatever you do, don’t do what I did:
1. Don’t not invest in yourself, first. (Double negative intended)
Find a course, person, or group who challenge and drive you, and jump in with both feet.
2. Don’t spend time being angry or worrying about things you can’t change, like “wasted years”.
Focus on what you can change and be grateful for the time spent learning what not to do.

Thank you for bearing with me as I found my footing.
Let’s get ready to Launch.

I’ve Failed You

I feel bad because I think I’ve failed you. I failed to provide you with the education you need, I failed to effectively help you solve your problems, and I failed to make this website and organization an actual resource. I didn’t meant to. I didn’t realize until recently how much deeper my work here should go.

Launch was legally formed in 2013; there was 6 years of work, reading, writing, trying, and failing before that and there has been more of the same since. On July 1, 2016 I made the decision to join a community of like-minded thinkers. I joined a group where global creatives and entrepreneurs gather online to teach and learn from each other. Joining has been wonderful and overwhelming because I realized how much I wasn’t doing. I did what I tell you, find people who think like you, but who are smarter than you, (meaning who can offer you an objective opinion and advice based on their outside viewpoint) and that’s what this group is for me.

Through the sharing of their stories, work, and struggles, I have realized that Launch Young Adults needs a change. Change is good when it’s the result of growth and insight. 

October 1, 2016 the changes will kick off with a new website look. The new site will reflect Launch’s new mission, premiere new blog post content, and a new video series. Launch is an educational resource and the website will be a hub, a library of all things real-life; free and paid courses, ebooks and published books, stories from ambitious young adults like you, and an actionable weekly newsletter.

The new, focused, mission means I’ll be able to help more of you, and in turn, you’ll be able to help others. 

Thank you for sticking with me through years of clouded attempts, major failures, and small successes. I’m tempted to delete every blog post and video I’ve posted in the past, but it’s all part of the journey.

If you’ve ever asked yourself or someone else, what is Launch? Thank you. I have asked myself that as well, and not having an answer challenged and drove me to concretize the abstract. I knew I wanted to help and I knew who I wanted to help, but I didn’t get clear enough on how best to help and of what value I could be to the people the work served. I encourage you to do the same with whatever you’re working on or struggling with; start at the finish-line of your success and then walk backward until you reach the work you can do today.

See ya soon!

Lia

Work Hard & Have Fun | Guest Post

IMG_0686“Work hard and have fun” was something I learned this past year from my history teacher. She applied it to the material we were learning, and to real life.

Her classroom served as a testament to this statement. It wasn’t gray and bare like others; she had quotes, and colorful paper covering cork boards. There was always Bon Jovi playing and students always working. She fit the description of “Work hard and have fun” perfectly. Somedays we would spend the first half of class just talking and laughing but when it was time to work, everyone got to it. There was this unspoken agreement that this is how class worked and we all followed it without question.
I think this teacher left an imprint on me that this isn’t always how life works, but this is how it should.

To reach something you really want, you need to put in the time and patience to achieve it, but you also have to have fun or you’ll go mad. I don’t mean go to a spa resort or have a five course meal every time you feel over worked. But listen to your favorite music, eat the cake that’s taunting you, have a friend over to help boost your morale, or just get some fresh air.
Even though history isn’t my favorite subject, and for half the year I dreaded her class, I’m so glad I had that teacher.

Written by Maddie R
Blog: Sundaysaresunny.com
Instagram: @Sundays.are.sunny

What Do People See In You?

#COINTRACKER16
I sat at the head of two, rectangle shaped tables, pushed together end-to-end, and listened to my class talk. There had to be 7 different conversations going on at once, and yet, I heard nothing. No, I hadn’t gone deaf- my mind, amidst an epiphany, had muted the noise in the room to allow me to process, and it was in that moment that I finally understood. I understood what my teachers, coaches, and mom had been saying about me all those years growing up. See, I was the kid; the student and athlete that my schoolteachers, dance teachers, lacrosse coach, and mom said didn’t work up to her potential. I didn’t know what in the world that meant, and for that reason, I hated hearing it. I never understood how I was failing to work up to something I’d never shown them I could do. So I just added it to the list of weird things adults said, but never bothered helping kids understand.
Years later, as I sat looking at my students, I saw in them what my teachers had seen in me. I could see everything they were capable of becoming, all their latent abilities, sparks that were waiting to be flamed into fire, all they could achieve and accomplish. My teachers saw in me a student who had the ability to excel, even if she didn’t have the desire. They saw what I was capable of achieving if I were willing to work harder; I wasn’t. They saw what could be. When I sat with my class that day, I saw the same thing in them, potential. As the volume of the room slowly turned up, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and knew that helping them recognize their potential and put great work into the world would be my work.