when the student becomes the teacher
by christina britt lewis
ohmygoodnes, you guys... i messed up big time.
i have spent the past few months desperately trying to fix the biggest mistake i ever made.
25 redesigns are waiting to be blogged, but i have to tell you the truth first.
because brené brown wrote...
our lives are a collection of stories.
truths about who we are,
what we believe,
what we come from,
how we struggle and how we are strong.
when we can let go of what people think and own our story
we gain access to our worthiness,
the feeling that we are enough
just as we are
and that we are worthy of love and belonging.
so here goes...
cole was keeping goal when another player's head collided with his face shattering cole's eye socket and cheekbone. he took a break from soccer after that. with time to focus on something new, he discovered SCUBA diving. he found his passion and worked his way up to rescue diver certification. camden followed in his big brother's footsteps and now we scrimp and save to be able to take them diving all over the world. we spent spring break in iceland where they dove between shifting tectonic plates in water so pure, they drank it.
the dive of a lifetime, all because cole broke his face.
sometimes when you think you lost, you won...
"crystals" by iceland's own of monsters and men
cole's college search took us up and down both coasts this past year. like most of us, cole wasn't sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but he was drawn to schools and professors that taught classes under water. because SCUBA. when the head of the marine science department at cole's dream school on the west coast sung the praises of cole's dream school on the east coast, cole made up his mind.
time to apply.
we feel like there must have been some sort of instruction manual that we missed, because all of the other parents just seem to know stuff, from when and where to apply to preschool and on. we almost never get this stuff right. so most of you probably already know that there's this thing called "the common app" now. it's simple enough for any of the others who missed the manual to figure out. one application. online. goes to all of the schools your kid clicks. easy.
so easy that kids are applying to 5, 10, 20+ schools.
not cole. when cole decides something, he decides hard and he goes for it.
he had one dream school.
he had a strong application.
he wrote a killer essay that made me cry.
so i convinced him to only apply to his one dream school.
every time i tell this story in real life, this is when people gasp and cringe. was this in the instruction manual or are you all just way smarter than i am? my logic was... tim and i hire people for a living. we both see a whole lot of resumes. we pick people who pick us. if it feels like a form letter, we don't read past "to whom it may concern...". combine that with my status quo antagonism and belief that a beautiful life follows when we take big risks, dare greatly, and do the opposite of what everybody else is doing... and maybe my faulty logic is forgivable.
but whether you can muster any sympathy or not, doesn't really matter.
because as you already saw coming...
i was wrong.
i was as wrong as i have ever been about anything.
the rejection letter came on a sunny tuesday.
to my big surprise, i was the only devastated one. so i cried alone and under my covers while trying to be all "every little thing is gonna be alright" in front of my marleyesque family. my smart and frugal husband is a big believer that all people should go to community college for two years and then transfer anyway. it's hard to argue with him when he says things like "you can keep the money you save by choosing the most affordable path to achieve your dreams." cole was all "sounds good to me, dad! community college, here i come!"
after more than a few weeks of ugly sobbing under covers, hiding from the world, baking way too many coconut cupcakes, and feeling like i had lost at life, i called my mom from a hotel room in asheville. i sneak away with tim whenever he goes to asheville for work, but this time i was no fun to be with and could not seem to get out from under my darkness. mom asked me hard questions and i came to see that i wasn't really upset because i had ruined my child's life. my child was having the time of his life...
the real reason i could not come out from under the covers...
what was i going to post on facebook?
i am a fraud. a fake. a false prophet.
i sit in our pretty little home and write about jumping off ladders and refusing to keep up with joneses. i write about seeing the beauty in everything, even when everything sucks. i believe they wrote wagon wheel about me and sing "if i die in charlotte, at least i will die free" like it's my own personal anthem.
but that's a lie. i am not free. i am still trying to climb ladders and keep up with joneses.
coming out from under the covers and telling people the truth has taught me that i am not alone. maybe your kids make the team, win the award, get into the dream school, and all of the things...but you know things are not as perfect as they look on facebook. maybe you don't know what it feels like to get a rejection letter on a sunny tuesday, but you know what if feels like to desperately want something with all of your heart, and not get it. that makes us the same. brothers and sisters. in this together.
so, i'm wondering...
what if mistakes are something that happen for us, and not to us?
what if mistakes are merely a plot twist in our life story?
what if life really doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful?
cole has spent the past few months teaching me to see the beauty in it all. he has not decided what he will do in the fall yet. he has been accepted to every college he applied to after he received that rejection letter. we are headed to new england next week to visit yet another school. he has considered community college, a gap year in thailand to complete his divemaster and instructor certifications, a small college on the west coast that offered him soccer, a big college close to home, moving to the beach with his best friend and working at a dive shop...
he is teaching me all over again...
the best stuff happens when the thing you think is supposed to happen, doesn't.
and you know what you guys...
why the hell was i letting facebook define "perfect" for me anyway? i should know better. i graduated from a no name college in the middle of a corn field with a useless degree in sociology. and i get paid to do what i love for a living. tim graduated from the same off brand college and manages people with far more prestigious degrees. my dad hardly finished high school and he is one of the sharpest and most successful men we know. my mom started a new career after her 60th birthday. maybe you saw her in the hunger games?
why would any child of mine walk a conventional path? why would i feel anything other than proud to see him follow in the footsteps of the ones he loves? why was i letting the status quo and conventional thinking and facebook make me feel like i had lost at life?
maybe a little bit because i know how hard this path has been.
i just hoped it would be easier for my babyboys.
getting here has been hard, you guys. so. wicked. hard.
but worth it.
the shadow totally proves the sunshine.
perfect is nothing but an illusion anyway.
you don't have to be perfect.
you don't have to have perfect kids.
you don't have to go to the perfect college.
you don't have to have a perfect marriage.
you don't have to have a perfect home.
you don't have to have a perfect body.
you don't have to have a perfect career.
you don't have to be perfect to have a beautiful life.
my brothers and sisters...
may we be people who refuse to pretend to be perfect.
may we be people who refuse to find our worth in climbing ladders and keeping up with joneses.
may we be people who find our worth in how worthy others feel in our presence.
may we be people who seek and find the beauty in everything.
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