Do you see these beautiful shoes I'm gifting you?? Do you see the party that is happening all over them?? Have you gotten into the celebratory color splash realness of them?? 'Cuz celebration, living in bold color, & realness are this week's themes.
I've been tasked with writing this. My Guru has been paying close attention to the way my Life works since we met nearly twenty years ago, but especially to the last couple of weeks. He's noticed a pattern in me:
You don't believe you're as good as people say you are because you don't have to think about it, you just do it, it comes easy for you. Because it doesn't feel like work you assume it isn't & don't understand why anyone else makes a big deal over it, but it is.I paraphrased & created a quote from him out of the years he's been telling me this. I'm not a visual learner but DO REQUIRE visual reminders--if that makes any sense--so I have been instructed to leave this here where I can stumble across it again & be confronted with my own patterns.
A friend intro'd me to the term impostor syndrome a few weeks back. It's a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. This is me, through and through. I need a support group, self help books, 12 steps, cuz it's major how much I struggle with believing in what I do. The strangeness of all of this is that I DO trust that I know what I'm doing when I'm doing it. Because it's so internal though, this process of making "it" happen, & because I know so many other people who I consider to be dope as shit, I'm busy forgetting about me & basking in their greatness. Can you see how this could be a problem? MY WHOLE LIFE I've been told that I'm a genius by my parents. That sounded like something parents are supposed to tell their children to me so I took it with a grain of salt sometimes, but really just felt ridiculously pressured by it to be perfect. Genius sounds like perfection, right? iStruggled. Now I hear things related to my teaching, how creative I am & how well I reach & manage children, & wonder when the bottom's going to fall out. I chalk it up to being lucky enough to have had good groups [EVERY YEAR]. My friends always ask me, "When are you going to put that book out?" Or tell me, "You write better than most folks out here, WHEN are you going to write your book/s?" iBlush & wonder why they aren't reading who I'm reading, cuz thoooose writers are incredible. Or I think they're sweet & just say encouraging things because that's what friends are supposed to do. Notice how I gave myself NO CREDIT anywhere in there? Yeah...impostor syndrome. & it's a bitch.
Now, what has just hit me is how real this syndrome is for me. I said in the beginning that I was charged with writing my celebration here. & what have I done? I've told you how hard it is for me to celebrate myself. This is the point in this piece where I should start figuring out how to share the good stuff that's happened in the last couple of weeks, right? Imma try. I just don't know if I'm comfortable enough making it pop like those gorgeous shoes above.
Last week there were several great things that happened. I worked a summer program with the kids that most consider to be throw aways. "Those kids" that come from less than desirable backgrounds with records, & babies, & gay mamas, & little respect & fewer expectations & goals we don't recognize as...valuable. Yeah, them. The kids who'll cuss you out as surely as say "hello" if they don't trust you. The kids who will lay hands on you cuz that's how things get done where they come from & you being an adult doesn't mean a dayumb thing cuz they're as big as you are, if not bigger, & size is power. The 1's who aren't real sure what the point of all this "book learning" is for the paths they've chosen for themselves or had chosen for them. They're a tough crowd. & I won them over. & for the sake of the Guru, I'll add the rest--because I ALWAYS DO!! They learned to trust me & accept what I said as truth, especially when I told them that teachers don't know everything. Most of their previous teachers taught & behaved with an air of infallibility. I wasn't the only teacher in the room. My co-teacher struggled, completely unfamiliar with this demographic. It showed all over her & they came for dat azz regularly. By the final week she'd earned a pass but they made her work HARD for it. That has never been my struggle. In any classroom. Ever. & I'm owning it here.
The other great thing that happened last week is that I got to stand before a room full of people & GUSH about what another group of my students had done. Stop right there. Pause for the cause. Did you read that? Students were being honored for their positive contributions. Did I mention that my group was majority male? Black male? Writers. Yeah. For 5 months I taught creative writing to high school students. Their work was published in a magazine that contains mostly their work (& a couple of my own pieces, because I was asked for them, & 1 other facilitator's work). My work has been talked about behind my back in teacher circles. I got folks wanting me to make classroom visits to do workshops with their students. The newly elected DC Teacher's Union President has her eye on me. I am visible in a world where what I received for the time/effort/commitment/love/time/effort/commitment/love has been disrespected blatantly & by apathy. I've learned to duck & cover more than anything else, & that's not how anyone should be repaid for diligence & excellence. I've not even been looking to be lauded, but simply left alone to do what I do. You ain't gotta pat me on my back, but don't slap me. Ya feel me? But these children were honored, & by virtue so was I, as the facilitator that helped them lift their voices. & it led to a photo op with the Mayor of DC. That led to a council staff Twitter follow. & it led to a most incredible word of mouth recommendation that has led to my next adventure.
Oh but there's more. The Beau apparently shared my post on my experience with watching Fruitvale Station. Someone from an organization I'm very familiar with read it & asked him for MY information. I don't recall what for, or what it has the potential to mean. I DO KNOW that it's another feather in my "watch me move" cap that says I'm doing something right.
& when I hit "publish" on this post, I'll be prepping for a business meeting to get my own ish in order, prepared to take tangible shape for you & you & you, aka the consumer. Time to stop giving my talents away for free. So, look out for me. & remind me to look out for me. Cuz I'm something for us all to behold, even if the only 1 of us doing the beholding is me (which I'm clearly not & shouldn't forget but...) Mind you, this ain't about being cocky. T'is 'bout that lesson some of us still need to learn which is to WALK TALL & STRONG in our talents & own what we contribute out here, because it matters. Every little bit counts & you betta champion the flavors you're adding to the stew pot.
I think I'm forgetting some things but you get the point. I will also admit that I kinda failed cuz I didn't tell the whole story as it is, but the Guru should know that I've written it in my actual journal, so...there's that.
By the way, "watch me move" is for me than for you, reminding me to pay attention to things like this because...well...I know I'm not good at it. Everything has a purpose. So, as I like to say 'round these parts,
Watch me move.