You Get to Choose

You get to choose too.
I have to remind myself of this a lot. When someone doesn’t choose me, or has a different way of doing things, my default is to think that there is something wrong with me. Their way is better. I am doing “everything” wrong.
We all have The Joneses - the people we compare ourselves to. These are the friends, the social media contacts and neighbors we choose to self-flagellate with. Our successes are either propped up or diminished by them.
For example; yesterday we hosted a “last day of school” party for a bunch of tweens. It was six hours of 12-year-olds rough housing, and video gaming. Fun and exhausting. This party was for the kids, but it was also a way for me to see how they interacted, what the social pecking order was and how my child fit into it.
It was also an opportunity to meet the parents connected to his friends. There was the usual exchange of pleasantries; thank you for having him, thank you for coming, etc. Some parents lingered a little longer to chat, some whisked their kids away in a hurry. We all communicated something specific about ourselves and our children. I am in a hurry because we have another engagement; our child is very popular. I have time to kill and feel like talking; I’ll linger a little longer and tell you the great things about us. I am late because my job kept me; I am very busy! I am relaxed and welcoming; hey, don’t worry about it.
Each interaction is the Story of Us; a tale of the family that we want others to not so much know about us, but to believe about us. We embellish. The Stories of Us is us at our best. It is our domestic fairy tale.
Every time I have one these interactions, I walk away feeling like a failure. My kids are often rude and unhelpful. I have to remind them to say “please” and “thank you” all the time. They are picky eaters. They pick on each other. They do not like sports.
I am not nearly as good at this parenting as this guy!
That is when I have to remind myself, “Jen, you get to choose.” I get to decide if that way of parenting is the “right” way, or if I am OK doing it my way. I decide to self-flagellate or not. We don’t just get told what we are doing is wrong. The final decision comes down to us. We either agree with them or we don’t. We decide.
We write our own story.
Yoga teaches us that power is not just forceful dominance. It is also receptive yielding. Accepting oneself is an act of yielding. It is often uncomfortable. Being able to sit in that discomfort is brave. It is also the source of acceptance.
As you head out to teach your classes make a brave choice to never, ever compare yourself to other teachers. Write “I Choose THIS!” this on the cover of a teaching notebook and fill that book with what it means to be a good teacher, what you need to do to make that a reality and what your next steps will be. Sit down after each teaching experience and figure out what worked and what you will do differently next time. Be honest with yourself, be critical and always write “next time I will…” Make sure you leave that door open. And never, ever compare your work to someone else’s. Unfollow your peers on social networks for a while if you find that you are getting too distracted by their stories. Go into your own experience and trust that your story is worth telling too.