Today’s letter in the Series, “Dear Girl, If Only You Knew” is one that makes me strangely emotional when I think about how important it is to me.
Most people don’t know that I didn’t start out as a Theater Education Major. I switched from Performance to Theater Education at the mid-way point of my Sophomore Year. My first friend from that program started out as someone I admired my sophomore year in a class with a questionable teacher, and became a mentor, best friend, and soul sister.
We taught our first lesson together and the night before we were going to teach, I found myself feeling like a fraud thinking, “Who am I to try to be a teacher? I’ve had amazing theater teachers and how will I ever bring anything close to amazing into the classroom?” I remember driving down 21st, passing by the alumni center on campus, in her car that had these cool blue floor lights. I remember thinking her nails were cool, she had accessories on that were just made to be worn by someone with such confidence and kindness, and she told me about her tattoo on her foot that says, “Walk by faith”. She reminded me that no one person feels good enough to teach, but it’s caring and trying that allows us to learn and grow, as long as we keep the faith that this is so much bigger than us. She told me that if I wasn’t supposed to teach, why would God put it on my heart?
She’s the girl that showed up on my doorstep with a teddy bear and card in the middle of night when I got dumped my junior year. The girl that taught me how to love my body, love myself, and let go. She’s someone that encourages and empowers me daily. There aren’t many people that are like Amber Prince, and I’m so honored to share some of the insight she’s been giving me for so many years. Enjoy. xoxo
Here are the three mottos I should continue to live by.
1. I don’t have all the answers and that’s the beauty of it.
Growing up I was always the go to gal. I was a leader on my cheer team, president of my theater troupe, and helped to support my family once my parents split. I also worried myself sick my freshman year of college; I stayed up crying many a time about things out of my control and have looked truly clueless in more meetings than one. I thought I had to have all the answers. What was due, when the group was meeting, how much it will be, who is invited, who is not invited, but sometimes… I DON’T have all the answers and saying ‘I don’t know’ is beautiful! It opens the door to possibilities and learning. It pushes others around you to carry the same weight you put on yourself. It also makes life a lot less stressful. This took me many years to begin accomplishing and it is not nearly accomplished, but the progress is clear. If I am met with not knowing something I can… look for the answer, ask someone I respect, or…and here’s a crazy idea… move on. If it is not worth my time to look up and seek out, it might not be worth my knowing.
2. I can’t support everyone around me and that’s okay.
This is probably the motto I struggle with the most. I have struggled with it my entire life and gotten myself in hot (personal) waters over it. I chose a profession that is based around supporting, guiding and nourishing others. But I cannot support everyone. I believe teachers are manipulated into believing we must give every part of our mind, body and soul to our profession at all times. I have literally been told in a meeting that I, “did not care about the student’s if I didn’t want to do lunch duty” (which meant I would not be getting a lunch break). I have been made to feel that I was not giving enough if I did not attend a certain after school event, or help set up, or spend my Saturdays lesson planning. I have been talked down to for getting upset that I was continuously disrespected by a student. For a people pleaser, these moments eat at my soul and most importantly my heart.
But I cannot support everyone around me. I cannot be there for every single person at every point of the day. I also most certainly cannot save everyone. I once was told, “you cannot fill up another person’s cup if yours is empty” and since I heard this I have done my best to live by it. I took clear action steps to begin nourishing and filling my cup so that I could do what I love – help others and teach.
Some action steps I force myself to take are:
I do not take work home with me, period.
If the work is not done I will take the write up, arrive a bit earlier the tomorrow or utilize my time better whenever I get the chance. My home is my happy place and should not be crowded with my work. It was important for me to define what my happy place was. For some, their happy place is the stage, singing, or being at their parent’s home. If I could not define where my happy place was how could I take time to recharge there? (Also, shout out to Matthew Ellis for encouraging me to take this stance before I started my first year of teaching.)
I say no if I do not want to do something.
If I can’t say that no for myself, I usually ask my mom or boyfriend about what I should do. Naturally they ask, “what do you want to do?” Usually my response is “stay home.” HELLO. If my decision is not affecting another person in a life altering way, I have to do what I want to do. It sounds so selfish but it is important.
Side note: watch this Ted Talk for more tips on this subject https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwRzjFQa_Og&t=74s
I literally do self care days.
I schedule time for me, whether it is going to king spa, doing a pedicure and face mask at home, or going to get my nails done. I make time for me and I do not cancel on me (well, most of the time).
3. I am worth it.
Four simple words that are so hard to live by. There have been countless times in my life that I did not feel worthy. I did not feel good. I felt like a terrible friend, sister, daughter, you name it. But I am worth it. I know this is true for me and it is true for you. Even beyond the biblical grounding I have in this truth, I am worth it. I am worth being treated with respect, dignity, and care. I also am worth being told when I am really messing up or hurting those around me. I am worth it all because I am me and you are worth it because you are you. And on days I don’t believe it is true, it becomes my mantra. It becomes something I say over and over just like smiling until you’re really happy. It is a daily struggle but so important.
These three mottos are not easy.
They are not cut and dry.
They are not something that I will succeed at every single day.
But if I do my very best, if I surround myself with people who love me and I try to remember these mottos… I think I’ll be doing alright.