We shouldn’t be scared to be who we are, and yet we tiptoe around on a daily basis, following the crowd, and cramming our limbs into uncomfortable, predetermined cookie cutter shapes that do not accurately reflect who we are. I see this everyday at school. Teenagers trying to find their place and being scared to truly stand out.
Whatever people judge you for, whatever society is most critical of - own this. This is your secret weapon. This is your divine strength.
When you start to share your insecurities with others, when you open up and reveal your vulnerabilities, that when we can truly begin to heal. That is the moment that you get to start living your life authentically.
After sharing the article with my students and colleagues, I was received with such...compassion. So much love was directed towards me and I didn’t feel as though I deserved any of it. All I did was open up to a group of people who only saw me smiling in the hallways or shouting on the basketball court. What I did...it did not feel courageous, and yet their messages reflected this inherent strength. To me, it does not feel brave to be myself openly. What it feels like is a relief that I get to just be myself knowing that at the end of the day I love my reflection and the person I am. What a gift that is. There is no fear left and no time is being wasted on frivolous or vain pursuits.
My goal as an educator is to be human. To be someone students see themselves in - something beyond gender, skin colour, and age.
A person who knows what it’s like to be paralyzed by performance anxiety, a person who cries, a person who laughs, a person who carries the past on my chest like a badge of honour. A person who empathizes with struggle and encourages greatness.
A person who leads.
I’m thankful for the article that Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Sport published. It has opened up new avenues for discussion, especially in the workplace where I fear there is still a stigma against mental health.
Here are a few messages stood out the most to me and I want to share them here with you.
From a fellow teacher:
Wow! Alex! What a story. I knew you were big into basketball, but I had no idea what you went through (how often do we not know what a person struggles with, even with our friends and those we work with).
Thanks for sharing your story. It really is a courageous act to open up about yourself like that, and use it to help others. It takes a very special kind of person to do that. You have a wonderful heart.
We are lucky to have you on our staff, and I can only imagine the positive impact you have with the students.
From the person who hired me:
thanks very much for sharing this. I appreciate that it takes a lot of courage to put that out there it also helps us in our journey of understanding multiple stories as opposed to the single story sometimes we just see face to face. You are a great example to your students and staff thank you very much for showing your vulnerabilities and your growth and your strength. Thank you.”
I feel so blessed (and this is where I start to cry) to get to go into a workplace every single day that loves and accepts all people for who they are.
If I could tell my younger self anything (and keep telling all of the young girls I interact with on a daily basis) it would be to skip past all of the insecurity and get right to the part where we LOVE OURSELVES. Find what is special about you and OWN IT.
Don't waste another minute trying to be someone else.
Check out the article here is you haven't already