I am 44 years old and there are still many things about myself that I don’t like. However, as I get older and (hopefully) wiser, the scale is tipping and I like more about myself than I dislike. That is a gift not only to me, but to the rest of the people in my life. Because people who accept and like themselves are the best caretakers of others. In contrast, people who hurt others are often very unhappy with themselves. At the core of my being, my truest passion is to live in a way that supports others to live their best lives. And that means that first I have to love myself. I am working on it.
There is something that I love about myself: I recognize that there are many aspects of life where I am still a learner. I am more learner than teacher, even at age 44. Even though I was a teacher. Even as a school principal, I spend more time learning than teaching. Sometimes this fact makes me feel incompetent, but then I go back to my core mission in life. To support others in living their best lives means we must always be more learner than teacher. To support others means that we first must understand them. We must learn about them—their struggles, their joys, their bias, their values, their history, how they feel about themselves.
I am a middle-aged professional white woman living in the Midwest of the United States. That comes with a whole heap of privileges and some challenges. I am learning to try to figure out where I fit in America today, this America I am both proud of and ashamed of. I am learning to try to understand how we got here and what role I can play to help move us forward in a way that rights wrongs and empowers ALL Americans to live their best lives. In that, I am still very much a learner.
For today, I can focus on taking care of the people right in front of me. I am going to do that by continuing to learn. To learn to love myself in the way I deserve. To learn about my privilege and influence. To learn to be an anti-racist. To learn about what brought us to this point in our country and how I can help move us forward.
I write to reflect and grow, and I share my writing in hopes that others may find it helpful. My intention is to always help and never hurt. To be honest, I am anxious about sharing my writing right now, afraid that someone will read this in a way I did not intend, or will fixate on one word or phrase or sentence I wrote rather than the post as a whole. I am not even sure I will post this.
On the other hand, it feels disingenuous to me to NOT write right now. Like a fair-weather fan. If I reflect and write when things are going smoothly, is it right to remain silent during tumultuous times? Writing has been harder this past year for many reasons and it is especially challenging given the attack on the Capitol.
So, if you are reading this, I decided to be brave and post this reflection. Please read these wise words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and join me in learning to love yourself and learning to understand others, especially those you don’t agree with.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.