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Lesson 24: I Can Do Hard Things!

As a child, many of the activities I participated in came relatively easy to me. I also loved school and excelled in school so that did not push me too much either. It wasn’t really until my junior year of high school that I had my first confrontation with something that did not come easily to me. In the 11th grade I decided that I would start dancing at this studio up the street from my house. I knew a few other people who attended this dance school, and I wanted to add something athletic to my list of extracurriculars. I started with Ballet, Lyrical, Tap, and Hip Hop. I took Jazz my senior year as well. I love to dance, but I had never had formal training before. I remember leaving out of the studio in tears one day because I struggled with picking up the material quickly. There were other people in my classes who had been dancing for years and I felt terrible that I could not keep up. I wanted to quit, but I also realized I couldn’t just quit because it was hard. I had to work at it. I can’t say that I became an amazing dancer, but I can say that the experience definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and I genuinely had fun doing it.

I also had some challenging experiences when I got to undergrad and took multiple math classes. I had always excelled in math in my K-12 experience so I assumed it would be the same thing as I went further along. Boy was I wrong. I struggled so much in ALL of my math classes in college except Differential Equations. I kept taking the classes even though they definitely negatively impacted my GPA, but I was determined to make it through. Ultimately, I stopped at Probability and Statistics, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I was able to pass on to other people!

Recently I have been challenged in my aspiration to make fitness a priority in my life. I had never really trained before moving down to Atlanta, so joining a gym and taking weightlifting classes was new for me. I was definitely intimidated at first because there were other people in the gym lifting such heavy weights and here I was not even using the bar. I had to talk myself out of quitting multiple times, but I have stuck with it. Now there is so much excitement in seeing myself squatting with the bar and weights, or doing a deadlift and seeing and feeling the results!

My challenges that I outlined above ultimately taught me invaluable lessons that I would not have appreciated if I did not personally experience them myself. The lessons I learned are:

1. Comparison is the thief of joy and possibly progress. In all of these examples, I felt worse about myself after comparing myself to the other people in the room. Either I was not good enough, smart enough or strong enough. When comparing skill sets, it may have been true that I did not lift as much as the person next to me, but it doesn’t matter. I can only stay in my own lane. I can only live my own life. Comparison can be a sneaky little enemy, but you have to nip it in the bud early or you will find yourself robbing yourself of the only life you have been given to live. To curve comparison, I have taken social media breaks, and I have used journaling to speak positive words over myself. I will write notes to myself as a reminder that I only know my full story. It is not helpful to compare my life to someone else’s highlight reels. Comparison is not going to help me to improve. And I can be happy for the successes of others, because there is more than enough to go around.

2. My struggles help me relate to others. Before I struggled in my math classes in college, I really did not know what it meant to struggle in school. I do not think only having that experience would have made me a good teacher. Knowing what it feels like to be misunderstood by a teacher and to need extra support helps me to empathize with my scholars when they are struggling. It makes me want to go the extra mile so that my scholars do not feel the way I felt as the only Black girl in a math class not understanding anything that is going on.

3. Success that is well-earned feels good! When I made up in my mind to not quit and to stay dedicated and consistent, I made the conscious effort to invest in myself. This journey can be long and hard, but at the end, it is definitely worth it. There is nothing like not being able to run more than 2 blocks, but staying consistent in running every week, and then being able to run 3 miles! Or there is nothing like struggling using an instructional strategy in the classroom, but practicing and being open to feedback, and then excelling in it! There is beauty in pushing forward and working hard and conquering what you set out to do!

What is one thing that was a challenge to you at the beginning, but you put in the work to make it happen? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. There’s only one more lesson left!

Love y’all!


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