I have spent my entire life chasing greatness, but more often than not, I have failed miserably along the way. I have tried to win, but often lose. I put on a smile in public, but often cry in private. I have tried to present myself to the world as perfect and as a result have been seen by many as far from it.
In elementary school, I skipped the 4th grade. I was told I was smart and have spent my entire life trying to live up to that label. I was told I was gifted and thought everything was supposed to come easily to me.
In high school, I played football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, track, and was in the band. I wasn’t great at anything and as a matter of fact was even all that good, but I wanted to be. In 10th grade I had a picture given to me that showed me running on the track during a meet with no one around me. I told those who didn’t know any better that I was just way out in front. The reality was that I was so far behind no other competitors could be seen even with a panoramic view.
In college, I spent my freshman year searching for myself. I tried to mimic behaviors of frat guys, athletes, and my popular roommates often laying awake all night feeling lost and wondering why I had such a difficult time making friends.
As an adult I have found myself chasing positions and titles in a quest to become someone I can be proud of. I have been a teacher, a dean, an assistant principal, a middle school principal, an elementary school principal, a professor, and a central office director. I have written books. I have spoken in front of thousands of others. I have earned the title of principal of the year and professor of the year, yet, I still struggle to feel successful and rarely feel happy.
As a child I envisioned myself growing up, working 9-5, and coming home every evening, having a family dinner, and going to bed each night with a smile on my face. The reality, though, is life is hard. Life is messy. Living a real life is often harder than living a facade and in the world in which we live today, that struggle is even more difficult.
We live in a world where we strive to gain followers instead of friends. We see notoriety as an equal to influence. We strive to show others mirror images of themselves instead of glimpses of ourselves. We buy lesson plans from other teachers in an attempt to mimic their success. We blog false humility in an attempt to gain support. We pose for pictures while editing for the perfect lighting and color. We work harder to be who we want others to be than we do to better ourselves.
We want others to believe we have it all together, only revealing our flaws in an attempt to seem approachable, with no desire to really target our own struggles and grow into who we were destined to be. We tell others we are winning when the reality is we are falling further behind. We have heard about the power of reflection, but reflecting a false image to the world will never allow the truth of who you are to grow and thrive.
If we want to improve as professionals, as people, as spouses, staff, parents, and friends, we must embrace our truth. We cannot embrace our labels and forget our identities. We cannot celebrate our image and forget our realities. We must embrace progress and acknowledge our past.
Here is my truth-
I lose a lot.
I hurt others.
I hurt myself.
I want to be better.
I want to grow.
I want to fit in.
I stand out.
I want to have friends.
I am often alone.
I am getting better.
Humility is embracing this- Boldness is never giving up