Running In Place or Standing Still
Trying something new is scary. There are no guarantees that you'll be good at whatever this new thing is. The fear of failure, especially if it'll happen in front of an audience, though not necessarily on stage, is enough to make the average person get back on their hamster wheel and keep spinning in a predictable direction.
The first ingredient to success at trying something new is openness. You have to be willing to adjust your perspective, and, therefore your approach. Throughout the experience it's OK to self assess and make a decision whether to proceed or abort the mission. In truth, everything is not for everybody, but we can all try.
So. I'm in a building full of 3-5 year olds. I haven't worked with this age in a group of more than 10 at a time in many years. When previously offered the opportunity to come on over and make this change, I scoffed at it, completely disinterested in the runny noses, the wet behinds, the whining and crying, the lap sitters, and anything else you could imagine. Singing songs ain't never been my thing. I left it at "only if I must status." Must didn't come. I love the children of friends in this age group but was totally resistant to it on a 5 days a week for 180 days basis. But here I am, singing songs and blowing air kisses to mommies receiving them telepathically from children missing them throughout the school day. I'm taking kids to go "poopie" and trying to keep the wanderers in my line of sight. I am moving and shaking and decision making at a pace I resisted, but apparently CAN DO. And...I like it.
Part of me feels like I've taken an easy out or like all I'm personally working with will eventually be so watered down that it won't work when I make the shift back up the age/grade ladder. But it's not all nap time and sippy cups. As a matter of fact, for me, it's none of that. I don't mind it at all. One teacher gave me a compliment today and said, "I would never have known you've never done this before. You're a natural at this." I wouldn't go that far, especially since I'm already identifying needed areas of improvement. Still, it beats having someone come and tell you, "Perhaps you should consider your other strengths and where you can best fulfill them."
Which...is kinda what I think someone needs to say to a colleague. As my elder, I'd never say those words to her, but I've found she's a little too cerebral for where she is. It's not that those of us who are little nerdier (or who practiced law and adult language for years) than others can't get it in with the kiddies, but there are some of us who are--shall I say--socially inept [across the board]. When you're socially inept, children are frightening because they see through you like glass. We've been with the children for 3 days now, and though she's there to assist, she manages to do a lot of opting out for the sake of observation. Fear. If she forces herself out of her comfort zone and into the unknown, she just might discover how great these little people are and fall in love with the wild things children say and do in the name of learning and exploring the world around them. Said woman is afraid she won't do it right because she doesn't know how, and so she doesn't do IT at all. Her loss. Having a Miss Cleo moment, I foresee her sticking it out for the sake of the regular paycheck, but that next year we won't find her at any Welcome Back sessions. So be it. It may take her a while to honestly assess that this isn't for her. But I hope she tries first.
I'm glad I did.
Watch me move.