Recently, a student gave me a thank you note. In it, he thanked me for several things I did for him.
I forgot I did those things.
Reading the note, I thought, Oh, wow, he’s talking about me.
I totally forgot those nice things I did.
I forget that I do so many things right. Do you ever do that?
The day before that, we had a workshop where the facilitators asked us to talk about the mistakes we’ve made at work. Our insensitive moments. Acts of bias.
If you’re anything like me, I acutely remember mistakes. Standing like a deer in front of people frozen in fear. Crying in the car. Cringing over every less-than-perfect word I wish I could clutch back to my chest.
We need to improve. We need to learn. I get it. I’m a teacher who gets lots of feedback.
And yet, how many times have I gone to a performance review and had my boss say, “Hey Georgi, you are doing really well. How do you do that? What techniques are you using that are going well? What new assignments did you create? What memorable moments have happened in your classes?”
Several teaching awards collect dust on my shelf: pieces of dead wood and laminate plastic with inscriptions. Symbolically, people think I do things right.
In reality, people are alive and pulsing. Students talk and hyperventilate and shake and tremble. They smile and frown. They come in and out the door and fidget and sigh. It’s a never stopping, constant interaction: giving and taking, struggling and growing, sharing and laughing.
My classroom is alive and flowing and 100% YES, I make mistakes.
But could you also ask another question?
What have you done right?
Ask yourself what you’ve done right. Ask yourself what your friends do right. Ask yourself what your lover does right. Ask yourself what your parents did right. Ask yourself what the people in your community are doing right. Why???
Because we do so many things right! SO. MANY. THINGS.
We give thousands of words of encouragement and support. Hundreds of hours of work. Dozens of recommendations and favors. Singular and very personal acts of kindness.
Beautiful, gorgeous, reader: You can always find fault in yourself and others. That’s easy. Want success and mental health? Then start recognizing what you’re doing right. Offer yourself credit for what you’re doing right. Analyze and repeat what you’re doing right. Tell everyone around you all the things they do right.
Hey boo, you know what? I’m talking about an ideal world. Please don’t wait around for someone to ask you what you’re doing right. Ask yourself.
Revel in the answers. You, and all the people you love, are doing so many things right.
Thank you for all you have done. Feeling discouraged lately? That’s ok. Did you forget? That’s ok too. We remember.
You do so many things right. Loving you out there. XO