Anyone else feel like we spend a lot of time selling ourselves short? I know I do. I catch myself doing it regularly and make a mental note to avoid it in the future.For me, the sentences usually starts with, “I’m just a…” or “I don’t do much, just…” The intent is humility but it feels like it comes across as a laundry list all the things I do, as a lack of confidence or to elicit an affirmation of my worth the 7th grade girl in me still seeks.
It’s so frustrating!
Someone I admire for her wisdom and confidence and voice encouraged me to take part in a Twitter chat around re-imagining high school recently. Let’s be clear, I spend a good amount of time involved in schools and with students but I didn’t finish college, am no educator, administrator, counselor, etc. and my education involved 12 years of Catholic school, so public education isn’t part of my experience. I’m “just a parent” and asking for a seat at the education table feels odd and a little pompous. I have no idea what schools have to wade through to educate the leaders of tomorrow and, while I’d like to think I’d accept it from a place of good, I’m not certain I’d take it well if an education professional asked for a seat at my “parenting table” and so it seems ludicrous that anything more than an email to a teacher or a talk with a principal is my place. Not that I don’t do it, but I find the “But I’m just a parent so I probably don’t have any idea what I am talking about.” comes out of my mouth more than once.
During this chat, it became clear that “we need everyone at the table” was more than throwing an outspoken Mama a bone. Parent, students, principals, teachers, education experts and more spent an hour in collaboration about high school. It was amazing and insightful. I have always been in awe of what our students and schools do – this it kicked up a notch. Even more, the continued conversations after the chat ended were unreal. People continued to comment and ask questions and explore the thoughts of others. I was so grateful to have been a part of it and when I put my head on the pillow, I heard the voice of “Stop selling yourself short. ‘Just a…’ nothing. Be you. Use your voice. Take your seat at the tables you were made for and ask for a seat at the ones that set your soul on fire.”
There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. We can believe we have something to contribute even if a piece of paper (or lack thereof) or experience or economic status or whatever says otherwise. We don’t belong at every table but, if the subject sets our soul on fire, why not at least express an interest in being part of the discussion?
One of my favorite quotes is “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
If you feel committed to it, get involved. Encourage others to find what sets their soul on fire and get involved in their “thing”. Stop the “I’m just a _______; they don’t really want to hear from me.” talk. Don’t sell yourself short or let anyone else sell themselves short. We all have a part to fulfill in this world and no one else can play the role we’ve each been gifted to play.
Show up friends.
Be you and be proud of you.
Use your voice; the world needs it and is listening.
Most importantly, our kids are watching and we need them to see what it looks like to be the whole, resilient, strong, confident, intentional and compassionate leaders of tomorrow they were made to be, who can speak boldly and respectfully and change the world. ♥