A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to National CUE in Palm Springs. I wasn't supposed to be there, I hadn't registered nor had a place to stay. But the Friday before the event, a wonderful person handed me a free registration! *These things don't usually happen to me, so doubt set in... Could I possibly make this work? I called the CUE offices and low and behold, they granted me registration (even though I missed the due date on the certificate). All I had to do was go to the "Special Circumstances" booth. PERFECT! I just had to chuckle, because I feel that describes me, to a T...special circumstance. Let me give you some background of two other instances that come to mind...
In high school, I unwillingly tried out for the cheer-leading squad. I only did it because that was what my friends were doing-you know how that goes. Well...they all made the team...but me. Disappointing, but not devastating. Two nights after I received the "rejection" call, I received an unexpected call from the coach. Turned out that one of the other girls was moving and I was "runner up". So I happily joined the team that year. But in the back of my mind, I always had this idea that I was never really supposed to be there. I quieted that voice and just enjoyed the experience. It helped shape who I am today.
Fast forward some years and it is time to apply for college. There was only one school I applied to, one school I had always wanted to go to: UCLA. That one school, sent me my one "rejection" letter. Extremely disappointing AND devastating. I didn't fit in the mold that they were looking for...on paper. BUT...I didn't let that deter me. I learned about a "repeal" process. It was a long shot, but this was my dream, right? It was a very involved process...but in the end...they "let" me in. I was a BRUIN! But in the back of my mind, I always felt like I wasn't really supposed to be there. I quieted that voice and enjoyed the experience. It helped shape who I am today.
There are a few more similar "special circumstances", but when I reflect on these I think about-what if I hadn't been given those "special" chances? Who would I be, today? What if I hadn't persisted? What if I would've listened to that voice? What if I had just let those doors close? Where would I be today?
Why am I sharing this with you? Because I believe our stories have power. I look back at those things and can now take the learning and hopefully share it forward.
1) Know your goal. Know your purpose. Keep your eye on that prize. There may be road blocks, falls, blips and bumps along the way. But keep moving towards that goal. Persist, persevere. Look for those "special circumstances" where you can show what you are made of, what you can bring to the table. Believe in your value and show it to others.
2) Don't close the door on others. Just because someone doesn't "fit the mold" of what you are looking for, don't miss an opportunity. Do we just want someone who meets criteria on a check off list? I hope not. We are not made out of paper, so paper shouldn't guide who we are. Let's look at others through an open lens. Be open to their potential, their passion, their adaptability and willingness to grow and learn. We don't want a missed opportunity because we weren't willing to open up our minds.
3) Find that "special" in everyone. Whether is is your students, your colleagues, your staff, your friends, your family or a stranger. Everyone has something special and amazing within them. Sometimes it shines, but often times it is buried deep. We need to find that "spark", show others their "spark" and fan it to help it grow. I have been lucky to have a few people that have done that for me. It helped shape who I am today.
4) Don't listen to that "critic" voice in your head that "I don't belong here" or "I'm not good enough". YOU DO and YOU ARE! It takes incredible strength to tune those out, but it is worth it. Surround yourself with others that see that "special" and can help lift you up. That voice can hold us and others back from a lot of great. You will be surprised at how strong you are and how much stronger you will become-just tune that out.
I know it is cliche' and "Barney-esk" and very "Pollyanna" of me to say- "YOU ARE SPECIAL", but it is true. You are uniquely you and you need to share that with others. Once you can do that, you need to be that "lighthouse" person for others...pay it forward. Look for those "special circumstances" around and within others.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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