Monday, May 19, 2014


This week is the last week of school.
For my older kids, the last class with me means English day.  They get to ask me whatever they want, and I get to impart some wisdom to them. :)  
Lately I've been having a lot of 5th-6th grade girls say things to me like, "Sra Johnson, you're so fun!  Sra Johnson, you're so pretty!  Sra Johnson, I love your clothes!"  So, as part of my wisdom passing this year, I wanted them to know that they can become anything they want to be and change anything they don't like about themselves.  That age is a hard time for most kids, and I hoped it would encourage them to know that I, the teacher who they look up to for her dressing and crowd-speaking skills, used to be like them.

So I told them about the middle school me.
I was soooooo shy.
I was often embarrassed.
Getting asked to stand up and do something in class made me feel sick.
I didn't dress like other girls.  I wore t-shirts and boy shorts, and for a long time my favorite thing to wear were long-sleeve button-up plaid shirts.  The boy kind, not the cute girl kind.  I thought it looked good.  WHY??
I didn't wear makeup or carry a purse or shave my legs until years after other girls did, partly because I was embarrassed of the idea of growing up.

Until I decided I didn't like being that way.
I didn't like feeling shy and embarrassed, so in seventh grade I started the process of changing that about myself.  I now make a living talking in front of groups of people.  
I didn't like feeling self-conscious about my clothes and hair, so I watched "What Not To Wear" and paid attention, and now I usually feel (and look) pretty good.  

Listen up, world, because this is important.
If there's something you don't love about yourself, YOU CAN CHANGE IT.

I told that to my classes today, and I hope one of those kids took it to heart because I love them and it is TRUE.
I also said, as I was looking directly into the eyes of the people I wanted most to hear me, "I want you to know that you are about 100,000% cooler than you think you are."

Do you know how heart-breaking it is to say that and then see a shy girl shake her head "no"?

It's devastating.

So I corrected myself.
"I don't mean cool popular.  Most of you probably have an accurate idea of how popular you are or are not.  When I was in middle school, I had friends, but I was not popular.  I also didn't think I was very cool.  Now, I think I'm awesome! and I'm not that different than when I was in middle school.  I was cooler then than I knew.
I mean cool awesome.
And let me tell you this - 
Just because there are people around you who don't like you, doesn't mean you're not likable.
You are."

Listen up, world, because this is true.
You are more awesome than you sometimes think you are.
You are likable.  You are lovable.  
You may not be popular.  There may be people around you in this part of your life who don't like you. That doesn't make you unlikable.

Do you know how encouraging it was to hear girls say, "You're like me!"?  It made me hope they remember today.
The last question came from a girl.  She doesn't wear makeup, she doesn't do much to her hair, she's not friends with many girls, and she dresses kind of like a boy.  Some of her boy friends (not boyfriends:) were teasing her as I was describing my middle school self because she's similar in many ways.

"When you were growing up, did you hang out with boys?"
"M, I hung out with boys until I got married."
And then she smiled.


Harry told Hermione exactly what had happened after he had left the Gryffindor table the night before.  To his immense relief, Hermione accepted his story without question.  "Well, of course I knew you hadn’t entered yourself," she said when he’d finished telling her about the scene in the chamber off the Hall.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Bethany Johnson said...

I love it. I love it.

Kelsey said...

I am so glad those shy girls have you!

Mom said...

How did you get to be so wise? I'm so proud of you.

Annegirl said...

For the record, I, too, think you are awesome.

This is beautiful. They need you.

Post a Comment