I've got a lot of explaining to do.
Well, I don't HAVE to. I'd like to.
I've been avoiding some people lately. Loved ones have been asking perfectly legitimate questions such as, "So...what are you up to these days?" and "Have you been interviewing for a teaching position?" or "Will you be teaching at a school this fall?"
It's not that I don't know how to respond. Or what to say.
It's just... a really long story.
And so, this series was born.I decided to write this "series" of blog posts in order to fill you in. Pull you back into the loop. Get you up to speed. More importantly, to use my keyboard as a vehicle for my search for understanding and balance. Simple enough, right?
I ask that you please read this series with an open mind and heart. I'm thrusting this information out into the universe because that's how I tend to cope. My heart seems to be permanently sewn to my sleeve, and I have no qualms about sharing this information. Rephrase: Sharing this information NOW. The past was a different story...
"If You Really Knew Me..."I've recently gotten sucked into a new MtV reality show (I know...shocker...) called, "If You Really Knew Me." Each episode features a different high school that goes through the process of what's called "Challenge Day." Read about it here..it's pretty amazing. Anyway, small groups of students who don't really know each other take turns explaining the challenges they face in life by using the sentence starter, "If you really knew me..." The Challenge Day leaders do an excellent job of creating a safe environment for the students to open up, talk about their home lives, insecurities, hardships, etc.
Photo credit: Zach Cordner
The moral of the story? At the end of Challenge Day, the students leave with a greater sense of community, and an awareness that they are not alone in their struggles. Classmates from different social groups and cliques might be going through some of the same day-to-day hardships as they are. Which inspires them to go out into the school community and "Be the change."
Challenge Day reminds me of a retreat I attended my senior year of high school called Kairos. (Here's a quick explanation.) This particular retreat was religion-based, and lasted 3 days instead of one. I walked away with many of the same insights as the students do after participating in Challenge Day. We even had our own equivalent to "Be the change." Ours was, "Live the fourth." Since Kairos was three days long, we were reminded to live the fourth day, and each day after, in the same respect as we did during the retreat; without judgment, with an open mind and heart, etc."
My Kairos retreat group - Resurrection High School seniors, class of 1996
"LIVE THE FOURTH!"
After watching my first episode of the MtV show, I got the idea to possibly refer to it in a future blog. After reading a TVGuide.com interview about the show, I decided to write this blog series. Here's a snippet that inspired me:
"What's the biggest thing you took away from this experience?"
Challenge Day Student:
"To remember you don't know what type of home somebody comes from. It's human nature to judge somebody and it's up to you whether you hold that person accountable for the judgment that you're going to be making because more often than not they're false accusations. You don't know what kind of morning they had, you don't know what kind of night they had. You don't know how their family has raised them or how their friends treat them, you don't know anything about them except for their outer appearance. So that motivated me to get to know people better ... What it is that they're going through in their lives and just let them know that I'm there for them."
"What gave you the power to be able to share your story?:
Challenge Day Student:
"When other people open up, it gets a lot easier for you to open up. The people who were running Challenge Day shared a lot, which was really cool because they went through things I couldn't even imagine having to go through in my life. So that struck a little bit of motivation to show that it's OK. Before we started sharing about ourselves, they did techniques to break down the walls and get everyone to loosen up and start bonding with each other. As soon as we sat down and it came time to sharing, it just took that one person to step forward and take a bit of courage to go first and the feeling just felt natural."
My step forwardI realize that I have not gone through in the past, and am not currently going through, such devastating events as some of these high school students. Or even as some of my friends or my family members. I have a wonderful life filled with supportive, loving people. Please know that I do not want to discredit this fact one bit.
I struggle sometimes, however, like we all do, and in order to work through it, I'd like to take a small step forward now and provide a quick glimpse into what I'll be writing about in this series. Also, I'm doing this for my new mentee -- a beautiful high school sophomore who is a fantastic student. She needs me to be there for her and to support her over the next three years to keep her on track for college. I simply want to be honest about myself right now and take steps to REALLY being okay with who I am and how I operate. I want to show her that I am there for her completely. 100%. So here goes...
If you really knew me...
... you'd know that I've been struggling with a major bout of paralyzing anxiety and depression since December, 2009.
... you'd know that I haven't finished my school work from Fall, 2009. Getting there -- but not quite.... you'd know that I'm putting off teaching for a year. I'm currently interviewing for a full-time nanny position.
... you'd know that I'm taking this year to enjoy my relationship with my wonderful husband, and to spend some much-needed quality time with him before I dive into my first year of teaching.
...you'd know that perfectionism completely overtakes me -- to the point of not wanting to get out of bed some mornings.
...you'd know that I procrastinate and avoid things because I feel like I am not good enough....you'd know that after a recent extensive psychological and learning disability evaluation, I was officially diagnosed with:
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
2. Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Mixed Type
3. ADHD, Combined Type.
...you'd know that I am working with a therapist on cognitive behavior therapy, and I am starting to feel much better!
...you'd know that my husband is the most supportive, genuine, loving and caring person I have ever met.
...you'd know that I am going to be okay.
This tumbling leaf of mine...
Whew. It feels good to exhale after typing all of that. Well. I created Denver's Tumbling Leaf for this exact reason. If you're not familiar with my general platform, take a look at my description on the left. Through this series (and beyond), I intend to elaborate on my journey of moving to Colorado and discovering who I am. I'll reflect on my twists and turns, tumbles and fumbles, and share a bit more about the ups and downs that have gotten me to where I am right now. Oh, and oops! I forgot a few...
If you really knew me...
...you'd know that I hope you'll join me on my journey!
...you'd know that I truly value each and every one of you, and appreciate your support
...you'd know that this series is not just all about me. It's a process of getting to know myself, so I can be inspired and motivated to get to know YOU better. I sure hope you don't mind.
Stay tuned for "If You Really Knew Me" Part 1 - Sweet Home...
With love and gratitude,