"What I am today, I promise I won't be tomorrow. I will always continue becoming ...becoming something better than yesterday."
...been writing in my journal everyday; sometimes two or three times a day... Seriously, each moment of this past week has been amazing. House parties, awards, the White House thing, great food, the best date ever, the beach two days in a row, and my students exceeded my expectations at the final culminating event... I mean seriously, I have so much to talk about but I don't know man... As I sit here and bring myself to blog tonight, all I can think about is the fact that my year is almost over. Not my school year, my 27th year.. My birthday is in three weeks. The closer I get to a new year, the more I reflect on the last one... And I can't stop questioning myself ...can't quit trying to figure out if I have accomplished enough this year ..if I have truly grown ..and what I will do next.
Well, to answer my first question: I have accomplished more than I can list in this virtual space. In an attempt to keep it narrow, I'll try to identify the one thing that fostered the most growth. I believe my biggest accomplishment was overcoming my age-old fear of water and learning how to swim.
It was Shelly's idea in the first place. She said she was going to take swimming lessons last summer. I followed and signed up for some too. I had no idea how much of an impact learning how to swim would have on me.
Mommy never wanted us to learn how to swim at an early age .. I suppose she thought we weren't capable enough to save our selves. I can remember her saying things like, "That's how 'so and so' died... They drowned..." She was fearful of water.. So she put those fears on me. And being that I almost drowned in 12 feet water when I was 8 years old, her fears lived on, stronger than ever. Failing at 8 made me lose my desire to want to learn ..it took 19 years and Shelly's bright idea to make me want to give it another good try.
But once I learned, I was exposed to what I was missing.. I never knew how freeing it feels to be under water and how much fun it is to just jump right in. I really started to look at everything in life the same way. My spirit left its concrete box and became liberated through the element of H2O. I will never be the same. I grew into a bold shark, while maintaining the sweet heart of a dolphin. Being 27 didn't change me, trying to do things that I never thought I could do and succeeding at them is what did the the trick!
I started to just be fearlessly free-spirited, always open to engage in new ideas and activities with the faith that I would not drown because I am never alone. I have been blessed with plenty of "life guards" who will always be there for me.
Not only did I lose my fear of water, I also stopped being afraid of birds. Those of you who don't know me probably have no idea that I was terrified of birds from the age of 14 to 27!
It was toward the end of the summer when I was sitting on my balcony, must've been around 7am.. I was reading and drinking tea.. I couldn't concentrate because the birds were singing to each other. I put my book down and began to watch them fly from tree to tree. It was in that moment that I finally recognized their beauty. And I had to be honest with myself about the fact that my fear was not really fear, it was envy. I was jealous of the birds - how they fly and just soar above us all.. I realized that's why many of us fear things.. It's because we don't understand what we see or we want what we see, but don't know how to obtain it. All of my experiences, especially this year, have led me to believe this. As soon as I stopped fearing the birds, I realized how much I have in common with them .. I too am a free bird.. And I fly every day - in my classroom, in my demeanor, in my writing, and in my travels..
But I used to dumb myself down to make others feel comfortable with not having the ability to "fly" like me... People told me that I would come off too confidently. I took that to heart and never wanted to share my good news, in order to avoid sounding like I was bragging. I always took the opinions of others very personally.. Not realizing that more often than not, the person who I was talking to really had an issue within their self, not with me. I was too busy being insecure to grasp that.. I was to busy comparing my feathers to others. I was too busy seeking the validation of my peers so that I would feel complete.. I wouldn't dare be as vocal as I am now with my writing. It was much safer to let my past get the best of me and not believe in myself at all. But not anymore ..because now, I finally understand that no one was created with the same feathers or fins. Meaning, we did not come into this world to be like anyone else. I, alone, am the sum of all my experiences. All of my bad, my good, my fears, and my triumphs were apart of the foundational branches that held the twigs of my nest. Everything that has happened to me this year and everything that I have ever been through from the day I was born, has prepared me to thrive in this world. So whether I fly to my final destination or decide to swim, it doesn't matter - I will get there, in my due season.
These experiences and epiphanies were pivotal moments for me this year... But the reality is, sometimes I still get caught up and forget. I still have to stop, reflect, and remind myself:
1. You don't have to be jealous of what anyone has because you already have your own. What's yours will always be yours. If you want more, work for it.
2. You don't have to be better than anyone else, strive to be your personal best self.
3. Celebrate the best pieces of your self and expand upon your unique talents.
4. If you want something, go after it! Jump in and get it! Doesn't matter if it's head first or if you're more comfortable with your feet touching the ground. Just as long as you don't quit until you get what you came for!
5. Don't be selfish. Spread your good news. If someone can't take it and feels like you are bragging, try asking them to share some of their good news too. Be sincere and empathetic. Practice being a listener. Most haters don't really want to be haters, they just want to be heard.
My last question to myself was: Where to next? Well, time will tell... In the meantime, I'll continue preparing and praying for the best.