Sunday, June 12, 2011

finding your voice

Someone once told me that confidence is sexy.  I agree.  But, I had forgotten, until recently.

See, I had become a person without much confidence.  Sure, I spoke up at work about the injustices I saw, sometimes getting in a little deeper than I ought.  I had just enough confidence to get by- to make friends, to participate in life only so far, and then retreat to the comfortable and familiar.  Trouble was, it was NOT comfortable, and although it started to become familiar, like a rut I could not get out of, it was not who I am, at my very core.

Then, one day, I decided that enough was enough.  I decided to embrace who I am, to let go of the fear (see previous blog entry for all THAT business!) and just be me.  After getting to "know" this woman on "the Twitter" and reading her blog.  I was inspired by her enthusiasm for running!  She went on and on about the benefits of running- not necessarily physically, but emotionally and psychologically, that I thought, "Know what?  I can SO do that!"  So I began.  I have been running for five weeks now, sticking to a routine, getting out in nature, watching the changing weather over the City, and listening to myself.  And guess what?  She was right!  I love it.  I even ran in a 5K last week, and did not die.  I did not even come in last.  And I felt confident.  And I felt sexy.  And I felt good about me. 

But, see, it has not stopped there.  I am also a singer in a wonderful choral group in the city.  I sing with talented and fun people, and although I love to sing, I was feeling stuck.  I felt as though my voice was trapped in my throat, and although I sounded good enough, getting it out was a struggle.  I would go home tired and frustrated from rehearsals, knowing it was in there, but unable to get it out.  Enter Confidence.  In our most recent concert, the voice came out effortlessly.  I had fun singing, and I knew it sounded good.  I even, (almost!), regretted that I had not auditioned for a solo...but I am not crazy!!  One thing at a time...

Here is the thing.  Confidence IS sexy.  There is nothing more compelling and attractive than watching someone who is truly confident doing that thing they excel at, whether it is singing, running, teaching or...or...or...

So, how does this confidence issue show up in my children's lives?  For that, a little story about one of my favorite students:   This little guy is in his third year at our school.  He has Special Education help in just about every area, and has been classified as "emotionally disturbed."  Having known him three years, and having taught him for two, I am pretty well aware of his emotional life, and what triggers a meltdown.  And, what it boils down to is this: Confidence.  When he is struggling with something, and feels frustrated and upset that he cannot do it, he gets upset.  Angry even.  Case in point: writing.  Last year, in his second year of Kindergarten,  I had him as a student.  When writing time would come, I could see him begin to fall apart even before he got his paper out.  He struggled with the physical writing part, the actual mechanics, as well as the illustrating and spelling.  He usually required a one-on-one teacher during writing, and even that was hit or miss.

Fast forward a year or more.  The other day, I came across him on the floor in the hall outside his classroom.  He had his writing folder and was lying on his stomach engrossed in his work.  I asked him what he was doing there, and he said "I was distracted so I came into the hall",  I took him to my room to finish his work, hoping it would not result in frustration.  As we were walking he could barely contain himself.  He said, "Guess what??  I have written four comic books!  I am working on a new one about Flash.  Wanna read it?"  And then, the most magical words..."I LOVE writing!!"  I asked him why, and he told me, "Because I know I can do it!!"

That is why I teach.  I had just forgotten it in my own loss of confidence.  But no more.