August 20, 2018

Tender Act

Instilling confidence in a 12 year old girl is a tender, intricate and vital act. It is not easy, but everyday we work at it.


You were at your desk drawing tonight frustrated because the drawing wasn’t perfect, and you said, “if it wasn’t perfect nobody would like it,” and although you didn’t say it, I have been teaching long enough and alive long enough to know that your statement actually meant, “if I’m not perfect, no one will like me.”

I am not sure how to prove to you that this thinking is false. Maybe some part of it is is true, there will be people who will not like you. They’ll have a litany of reasons and few of them will have anything to do with you. I know what it’s like to be in seventh grade and want to be noticed, accepted, liked. The alternative feels so lonely. But what other people think matters much less than who you think about yourself.

Everyone else seems so much more beautiful and smart and talented and athletic and artistic. How do they do it? How does the world seem so well put together and you feel so raw and broken and unfinished?

You ready for the secret? The truth?

The answer beyond the cliche bullshit of 10,000 hours of practice and growth mindset?

The answer is that they are not.

The world is a mess and so is everyone in it. We are all riddled with anxiety and insecurity and feeling small and inadequate and imperfect. We all just have different ways of masking it.

The first step is not to care too much what everyone thinks. Then maybe you can move onto not caring what anyone thinks. You are in a state of flux, of growth, of change, of evolution. We all are. All the time. Forever.

You cannot be overly concerned with how you appear to be in the eyes of others, until you learn to love the person you are becoming when you look in the mirror. This is no easy task, but you need to dedicate your life to loving yourself.

I can tell you that you are beautiful and perfect and smart and wonderful and the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I can hope that you will believe me and trust me and love me for loving you, but the road forward can be a lonely one. You will need to find yourself by yourself. I am here to help you and guide you and share my wisdom and experience, and I will never leave you alone or abandon you, but there is only so much I can tell you or show you, before you need to face yourself and accept and love what you see.

You might not draw the way you want. Or look the way you want. Or be as popular as you want. Or have that one true friend, but this too shall all pass. I was a scrawny, lonely, miserable little dude when I was your age, but there was a fire in my belly. I’m not sure where that fire came from or who put it there, but once I felt it’s heat I fanned those flames to see me through the hard times. Even now, as an adult there are days when loving myself is not so easy, but despite my own constant evolution, I am here to help you find a way to recognise your flame and learn how to blow it into an inferno.

I think we both need to be patient. A few things that I hope you keep in mind- the advice that I give you is not nagging or judging or criticism of who you are.  My wisdom is born of experience and delivered from love. From the second you were born, all I have wanted was for you to be who you were meant to be. Lately, I feel that I am letting you down. Every parenting move feels like a misstep, but we are a team and this phase of your life shall blend into the next, and we will work through it together.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be kind and patient with yourself. 
  • Becoming you takes time and can sometimes hurt. 
  • Everyone carries a heavy load be nice to them. 
  • As soon as you figure one thing out there are a million news things begging to be explored.  
  • Music cures most things and what it doesn’t that’s what books are for.
  • Most of confidence is just pretending to be confident. 
  • No one knows what they’re doing and most people are terrified most of the time. 
  • Envision who you want to be and walk toward that person. 
  • It’s okay to feel anxious. 
  • You are not alone.
  • You can always talk to me. 
  • I will never judge you. 
  • I love you. 

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