This past Fall I was at a teaching conference and one of the keynote speakers talked about being brave in the classroom. He said that we must first be brave in our teaching if we want our students to be brave in what they produce for us. I teach high school Seniors and I want them to take risks in their writing; I want them to step out of their comfort zones. However, I realized that if I wanted my kids to do stretch and challenge themselves, that I had to be willing to do the same thing.
So I did. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and I wrote. I wrote in the same style as my kids. I wrote in a very personal way, but then I was scared. I was scared to share what I had written. I was scared to reveal such a personal part of myself. But again, I had to be brave. I had to step all the way out of my comfort zone.
So I did. I shared and read out lout the piece I had written. I showed them that it is okay to be vulnerable in our lives and in our writing. I showed them that it is okay to be brave. How did I do this? I shared with them the following piece:
I (Still) Believe in Love
Last week my therapist told me that I see things, life, through rose-tinted glasses. He meant this as a cautionary statement, but I couldn’t agree with him that this was a bad thing: I couldn’t agree with him that I needed to get angry instead of sad.
I think this is because I choose to see the good in things. To me, it takes too much work to focus on the negative. When I do: I feel myself being dragged down, falling down the spiral of negative thoughts, negative feelings that swirl around you when focusing on the negative. So I choose to step out of that vortex (when I can) and focus on the good, to find the positive in each day, maybe even each moment.
For a year I have had this pit of emptiness, the sting of tears, the hollowness in my heart that I have had to struggle with. For a year I have had to face the fact that we don’t always get the fairy tale ending, or even the ending we had planned for ourselves. Instead, I’ve had to face a new reality that sometimes the prince doesn’t choose happily ever after with the princess, but instead will run away with the tavern wench. So what does the princess do in that moment? Does she wait for the so-called prince to come back? Well, maybe at first, yes. But when the reality of it sets in, the princess needs to learn that she doesn’t need the prince any longer even if there are times she still wants him to come riding back on that white horse.
But what princess wants the frog (or is it snake) who left her in the first place?
So I choose to face reality with my rose-tinted glasses even as I face this life ahead of me. But despite those glasses, I know that things are not always going to be easy. Despite the glasses, I know that there are those I have to build my defenses up against in order to protect myself. Despite the glasses, I know that I have to do things for myself.
However, despite the reality that I now face, I still believe in the prince who loves the princess – except this time she won’t be sitting around waiting for him to come rescue her. I believe in love as romantic as the story books; I believe in the small simple gestures that speak so-much-louder than any of the words that could be said. I believe that despite the pain, there is hope and happiness in my future. I believe that the sting of the tears waiting to fall in despair will be replaced by the tears that fall from laughter. I believe that the emptiness in my heart will be filled with a happiness and a joy that is beyond words.
But until that day, this princess will not be locked in some tower waiting for someone to let her out. Instead, I will embrace the moments as they come, I will choose adventure until I am swept off my feet by the prince who chooses the princess.