Let's Stop Playing Small As Teachers
Okay, Teacherpreneurs, Edupreneurs, Teacher Bossbabes, etc. etc. etc.
Maybe I’ve read one too many Rachel Hollis and/or Jen Sincero books, but this message is what I got out of CHURCH yesterday, and it inspired this message for y’all now that I just feel compelled to PREACH.
So here’s the question: are you making life HARDER for others, or are you making life EASIER for others?
If the answer is the latter, consider this your permission slip to STOP feeling guilty about MAKING LIFE EASIER FOR OTHERS AND RECEIVING COMPENSATION FOR IT.
And by compensation, I don’t mean catered lunch from Subway, new highlighters, post-it notes, mini assorted Snickers/Twix bars, or Starbucks gift cards.
I mean money-money-money-mon’-money.
Okay, get the image of “The Apprentice” cast members walking in slow motion out of your head. Get the image of Robert Redford in Indecent Proposal out of your head. Because that’s not what I’m talking about.
Okay. Here it is: as teachers (who are primarily women,) we have been conditioned (in a rather dysfunctional, sick way, I might add) to play small, to “give ‘till it hurts,” and to say over and over again, “I’m not in this for the money.”
Uh, no, no, no. Let’s stop saying that. Let’s ACTUALLY begin to say, “We’re in this for the money. So SHOW us the money.”
Oh, I KNOW.
Nobody ever has a problem when Cuba Gooding, Junior, or any other man, says that. But for us women? Oh, NO.
It’s not pretty. It’s not quiet. It’s not pleasing.
You want us to focus on kids? Applause.
You want us to volunteer our own time? Applause.
You want us to be crafty & creative? Applause.
You want us to bake something? Applause.
But when we dare actually ask to be compensated for what our gifts are worth? Crickets.
What if all the trees around you said, “Oh, please, I’m not in this for the rain. I mean, after all, I don’t want to grow too big and offer too much shade and shelter for too many creatures. It just would be so uncouth. Like, how would that make the other trees feel?”
As George Clooney paraphrased in O Brother, Where Art Thou, “Consider the lilies of the *&*%$# field.”
Abundance is literally all around you. Abundance makes the world go around. So many gifts are already all around you. And you know what else is a tremendous gift to creation? YOU. And YOU are a treasure. You ain’t cheap, and you ain’t free.
It’s SAFE for you to ask for what you want, what you’re worth, and actually RECEIVE it. God, Spirit, Allah, Universe, Inner Sasha Fierce, whatever you call or don’t call it, CREATED you to share your gifts and to receive gifts in return. To shine. To revel in the abundance of all of creation, which includes YOU. There’s enough for everyone.
Life is a cycle, not a depository.
Service to others, when it’s tainted with burned out resentment for never getting served in return, isn’t really serving. And it’s actually not even how life works. Can your coffee maker make coffee without water? Can your dishwasher get your dishes clean without detergent? Can you check out books from an empty library? Can you swim in a dried up lake?
You have permission to receive what you need to do your best. And what you’re getting in your paycheck is not enough to do your best.
So if you want to ignore me, then please go ahead and keep raiding that Target dollar bin with your own hard-earned bucks.
But deep down, you know you don’t have to do that. Why do you do it? Why do I do it? Why do we do it?
Let’s give ourselves permission to get what we need in order to give what is needed. Did you catch that? To truly give, we have to get. How we get what we need (reminder: it’s money) looks different for all of us. It might mean to march, to write, to create, to read, to speak, to sell, to save, to invest, to unite, to question, to say no, to make our voices heard.
Give yourself permission to do whatever it takes to get what you need to do, and BE, and FEEL your best. And really. Getting what you need to feel your best, then transmitting your positive energy and joy to others wherever you go? That’s real service.
But it ain’t gon’ be easy, y’all.
It’s gonna be a rhythm. You’ll shout and you won’t be heard-- right away. You’l offer and you won’t receive--right away. But go ahead and let that suck, then get back up, and keep doing it because your soul won’t have it otherwise. Do it enough times, then watch what happens.
Total success without conflict, obstacles, or setbacks isn’t possible. And it’s okay for it to suck and be hard at times. Because the struggle is what’ll make the reward, WHEN (not if) it comes, so much sweeter.
Oh, yes, you will lose “friends” and alienate people. You will displease people.
“Who does she think she is?,” they’ll say. “Mm, mmm, mmm. She is just so EXTRA,” they’ll say.
“SMH,” they’ll say.
Well, LET them shake their heads, unfollow you, “unfriend” you, and avoid eye contact. Because you have another kind of contact to make that’s more important.
Your goodness, your heart, your passion, your kindness, your brilliance, your amazing gifts? They’re being KEPT from those who need them every single time you give into the fear of what others will think.
Even when you’re stumbling and don’t know what you’re doing or exactly where you’re going. Even when you’re feeling like you’re shouting in an empty coliseum. Even when you feel exposed and vulnerable and annoying, or “vain for posting so many selfies” (that actually connect people to the real you), or “greedy” (for actually asking for what you know you are worth.) Even when you’re scared of WHAT THEY’LL THINK, whether it’s your frowning colleague down the hall, or that jerk who bullied you in 5th grade, or your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who never “got” the real you, or your disapproving Great Aunt Leticia.
None of that matters, my lovely ladies.
Yes, you is kind, you is smart, you is important.
But you are SO, SO much more.
Amazing gifts are in store for you. All you have to do is dare to receive them. All you have to do is share your gifts with joy, ask for what you deeply want, surrender, trust, listen, be faithful, follow the next right action that feels right in your SOUL, and you don’t have to worry about the rest. Because this universe has GOT you.
Isn’t that a weight off?
In closing, I’ll leave you with this quote from M. Louise Ciccone (more widely known as “Madonna”): “You deserve the best in life. Don’t go for second best. Express yourself.”
So go be free.