Have you found your gift? If so, what is it? How do you plan on giving it away to the world?
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – David Viscott
Welcome to another part of many in my A Journey Within series. I haven’t quite decided if I am going to be going page by page of the book for this series, or if I will be skipping around. Not that you would know either way, but just one of the many thoughts that go through my mind as I go through the writing process. Anyways, welcome back. If you’re new here, I am taking the writing prompts from the book/journal titled A Journey Within: an introspective activity journal to help you get to know yourself better. This book is published by Piccadilly (USA).
As I was typing out this prompt, I had this small anxious moment, thinking about how I will answer this question. As much as I seem to be an open book and can talk about my life, one thing that I have not quite mastered is being able to hype myself up. This does not mean that I am not able to recognize the good things about myself, but I don’t often talk about that side of me, because I always feel like I am trying to brag or that I am being conceited.
But can we just normalize being able to talk ourselves up without feeling that way. It is always ok to compliment and point out something that someone does well, but when you talk about yourself, there is a stigma. Let’s remove that. We work so hard at ourselves, we deserve to feel proud of ourselves and talk about our successes – no matter how big or small.
So I am definitely going to step out of my comfort zone, and attempt to hype myself up a little in this post. I mean in all reality, I already completed this prompt in the physical journal – with a space constraint, because there was only one page. Here I have unlimited freedom. Vulnerable to you all. But here we go..
So one of the first gifts I want to focus on is my attitude. Insert conceited thoughts. But not what you think. This is a newer gift I have to offer the world. There has been a good chunk of my life and I look back on it, and 100% realize that I was not the person I wanted to be. It was the person I needed to be at the time to survive, but ultimately not the person I wanted to be. Currently I am in a shift between that person I was and the person that I want to be. Old habits die hard. The realization and making the initial change in attitude was the hardest. Completely shifting your mindset is not something that comes easily. Triggers. Relapse. Temptations. No one talks about that. Everyone just talks about the successes.
My attitude has been a work in progress. Now, like I said before, I was the person I needed to be, because I was in survival mode for so many different reasons – family, work, relationships, school, trauma. I was just doing what I needed to do to get through. That doesn’t excuse things that I have said or done, but it helps put things into perspective. I have been on a long track of forgiving myself for what I allowed myself to tolerate and allowing myself to stay in that mindset for so long. I don’t regret who I was, because if I wasn’t that person, then I would not be where and who I am today.
My attitude has been a big mindset shift. I look at the world a little different. I see toxic people and cycles in my life, and I try to confront the situation by making my boundaries known, and if those boundaries are not being met, then I remove myself from the situation all together. This is one of the hardest things to do, because it is always the people you care about the most that are capable of breaking your heart the most.
The biggest shift in my mindset came when I was pregnant, but even more so, when I had the Witch Baby. I did not want to be a mom that was always looking for the negative. I did not want to surround myself around people that were bringing my mindset down, in turn, effecting my mood around my son. I also did not want that type of behavior around my son in general.
So I stopped feeling sorry for myself and my life circumstances at the time (which was indeed one of the lowest times of my life, mixed with the best time of my life) and I decided to make some changes. I stopped filling the cup of those that didn’t even spare a drop for me. I stopped enabling people to take advantage of me. I started seeing my worth. I broke cycles. I took my life into my own hands.
I get to pass this mindset and healing mentality to my son. I will be able to teach him that he does not need to tolerate anything less than what he deserves, which is the world. I get to teach him healthy ways to go through unexpected feelings and situations. I get to show him what healthy relationships look like within the realm of family, friends, relationships, co-parenting.
I, in no way, have perfected this. I still struggle with things that trigger those old habits of reacting, anger, and avoidance. I’m ok with that. I look at the growth I have made in the last two years, and I wonder how I was able to make as much growth as I have, but whatever the reason, I made it. I grew. I am growing. And I am excited to continue on this journey. I am never going to say that this has been an easy journey, but it is one that has the biggest pay off for my health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Switching gears a little bit, but the other gift I have found within myself is my career. Teaching, as much as it can be under-appreciated, has one of the biggest emotional rewards, that almost make up for the negativity. It has become part of my identity. I don’t know how to not be a teacher.
Ever since I was in high school, I have taken on roles as ‘teacher mentor’, but I have worked as a teacher for six years, two in a high school setting, and four in an elementary setting. While both are very different realms, they are also very similar. Especially when it comes to how I approach teaching. The first thing, and the most important thing, is relationship building.
To this day, I still am in contact with some of my graduated high school students and/or their families. Teaching high schoolers, I was able to see 125-150ish students in a day. For every single student I had in my class, I could tell you at least one personal thing about each and every single one of them.
Now in an elementary level, working with the same consistent 20ish students all year long, all day, everyday, I can tell you about all of their siblings and other family members, the jobs of family members, favorite foods, movies, games, etc. I am a firm believer that it is more important to form a safe space and build relationships with students over teaching curriculum. Not that it isn’t important, because it is. But curriculum comes naturally, the effort needed to build relationships is what is important. We focus on healthy ways to communicate and understand big feelings. We learn about social skills. We do more than just memorize things. We learn how to apply them. And at the end of the day, they learn that they have at least one safe adult in their life that will show them unconditional love with no strings attached.
I believe that this gift as a teacher will carry on as long as there are students in the world. If just one of those things sticks in the mind of just one of those students, then I will have done my job. If I can inspire just one mind, then I feel I did my job. I want my students to continue to feel empowered. Continue applying those social and emotional skills outside of my classroom. Remember silly songs and dances. Or think of me anytime they see an elephant. I’ll know I have done my job.
Whew! I survived this post.
Because I was curious to see if my intrinsical thoughts were the same as how others viewed me, I sent out a snapchat to some friends and family asking them to send me some of the first things that come into their mind when they think about my strengths or gifts I have to offer the world. Here are some of their responses in their words:
- nice to talk to
- take interest in different things
- very strong woman
- far too caring, but always in the best way
- calm or having a calming effect/persona
- strong as a fucking bitch
- slightly petty but always warranted
- coaching people (like teaching)
- good communication skills
- always willing to listen
- always wanting to help
- give very good advice
- not always there physically but ALWAYS be there virtually
- attitude of ‘sorry not sorry’
- good mom to the Witch Baby
- handle myself/react to things better than I used to
- putting other people first when needed, but also know when it is needed to put myself first
- my spirituality
- ability to think outside of the box and find multiple solutions to a problem
- positive attitude
- compassion and concern
- bright cheery personality that can be contagious
- passion for understanding
I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this list out or not. But I decided, why not? I think that it serves as a good reminder that other people notice things about you that you take for granted. It shows that there is so much more to you than what you may think of yourself. It was nice to hear those things, and I definitely felt more appreciated as I read through the responses.
So here is a reminder, that people like to hear these kinds of compliments. Taking time out of your day to tell someone you notice xyz about them will sit with them for a long time. In the middle of this school year, I had a coworker, one that I don’t get to interact with much, send me an email that read: Just wanted to reach out and thank you for your calming presence during our meetings. You have such good things to say and I am really appreciating getting a chance to know you slightly better this year. To this day, I still think about how thoughtful that was.
Go out there and be a kind human, not just to others, but yourself.
As always, thank you for reading, and partaking in the journey of finding my way. I appreciate all of the love and support. ♥️