Monday, November 26, 2012

Be Awesome to Yourself

There's a student I counsel from time to time who is a wonderful young woman:  kind, self-motivated, cheerful, funny, earnest, generous, sporty, hard working, easily excitable about big ideas, and a joy to be around.  I'd be proud to be her mother, mainly for her indomitably optimistic spirit and humility.

But once in a while, her confidence falters.  She questions herself; she doubts her abilities; she succumbs to overwhelm and loses sight of the big picture. 

Pay attention to how you're speaking to yourself, I tell her.  Be kind to yourself.  Accomplish the task right in front of you, and forget the SATs you're taking in a week, for now.  Remind yourself that you didn't fail your last calculus test.  Make a list of all you've accomplished and what you've done for others, give yourself a high-five, and then make your to-do list. 

Give yourself a break.  Treat yourself to something.

And then get back to work, because it's often going to be hard.

And then I have the same talk with myself.  Because couldn't we all use those reminders?

This afternoon we had Big Sis's Parent-Teacher Conference followed by her counseling appointment.  She's shed her third-grade troubles for some fourth-grade fortitude, which is cause for celebration.

Now her therapist is working with her on celebrating herself, and had her declare, in front of me:  "I'm awesome!"  The moment made me a little teary, as I thought of the adolescent girls with whom I work who often lose faith in their own awesomeness.  And I remembered the video of this little girl, affirming herself in front of her mirror

Big Sis's Achilles heel this fall has been the flute.  Fourth graders can choose violin, choir, or band, and she has always wanted to play the flute.  But she's learned how difficult it is to play, and has avoided practicing because it's hard.  We forget how important Struggle is in learning and the development of grit and tenacity.  At a family dinner last night, Baby Teddy grappled with a spoon in his hand that he couldn't get to fit through the space between his belly and the high-chair tray.  My sister was about to help him when my father admonished her to let him work it out. 

Seems like no matter what stage we're in--baby, fourth grader, fourteen, or forty--we struggle with embracing exertion and rewarding ourselves (versus seeking extrinsic motivation and praise).

But tonight after dinner, with new determination, Big Sis closed herself in our bedroom with her flute and practiced "Hot Cross Buns" a dozen times.

And each time she got the notes right, I heard her put down her flute and clap for herself. 

What's the sound of two hands clapping for oneself? 

It sounds awesome. 

1 comment:

aitchpea said...

Those last two lines? Verklempt.

(And completely unrelated: my code to prove I am not a robot is "eadtime," which looks both like "bedtime" and "eattime" to me. I like.)