You Are Never Alone
Last Thursday, I was anxious.
Last Thursday, I felt like a failure.
Last Thursday, I didn’t feel worthy.
Last Thursday, I didn’t feel like enough.
A few weeks ago, I was approached to see if I’d be willing to collaborate with a colleague from another school seeing as I’ve taught 1/2 multi-age in the French immersion program and she is in this same role this year. My response was that I am always more than happy to collaborate with anyone, I am a giver and a helper in nature, but that I didn’t know if I’d have a lot to offer. I truly felt as though I had completely bombed that year and had convinced myself that I had failed my students, so I explained that I’d completely understand if they’d rather seek out someone else who might have more experience and more to offer. Well, they didn’t. They chose me. And Thursday afternoon was the time we had together to collaborate and plan.
I felt sick to my stomach over lunch as the doubts started creeping in. I pulled out a few things that I thought might be helpful and then waited for her arrival.
I learned two important things that afternoon: vulnerability and relatability go a long way and we are way too hard on ourselves.
As nervous as I was for that afternoon, it went so well. It’s easy to say in hindsight that I should have known that it would be fine, but that feeling of not being enough was real! As soon as the teacher walked in and we started sharing experiences, feelings, and struggles, the fact that we were able to relate to one another and be vulnerable without fear of judgement was so powerful. I felt like just the fact that she knew that I understood her reality alone would have made for a successful afternoon. She felt very much alone, like I had that year, even though we are constantly surrounded by others who are supportive. She now knows that she has someone in her corner that she can come to whenever she needs. Someone who will understand. And even if I can’t offer any guidance, just knowing that I am there, helps.
The second thing that surprised me from that afternoon is how hard we are on ourselves. Minutes after the other teacher sat down, she began to explain how she feels like she is failing by not meeting all of her students’ needs and helping them all learn and grow based on where they are at in their learning. As I found myself trying to convince her otherwise, saying that she is doing the best that she can and that that is enough, I felt as though those words rang true to my own experience, too. It was like I was talking to myself. It’s ridiculous how quickly we forget the positive. When I think back on that year in my teaching career, it is filled with negativity. As I was sharing experiences with this teacher, I was forced to relive that year, which was a powerful moment for me. I was able to focus on the good I had done, and reminded myself that I am way too hard on myself.
So remember, no matter how alone you feel, know that you aren’t. And no matter how hard you are on yourself, know that you are great! Be gentle with yourself. Seek out those people who will offer support and who will understand your reality. Find those who are willing to be real, authentic, and vulnerable when sharing experiences, without judgement. With that in your back pocket, there’s no stopping you.
Go, be great!