The little girl sat with her back against the mirror. I watched as she crossed her arms over her bent knees, and rested her chin there. I walked over to her, and slid down to the ground right next to her.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, muffled. But she knew. So I simply sat and waited.
“It’s all too hard,” she began. “I have these tests at school. And if I don’t pass them, then they will hold me back. Then, I come to dance and you want me to remember all of these steps. I’m not smart like you, Miss Sheena. I’m just a girl.”
I stopped her there.
“But you are such a smart and strong girl. You don’t need to fear those tests. Those tests should fear you! You are prepared and ready. And same goes for these dances. I’ve seen you dance them; and you have them.”
We talked until she smiled and returned to the dance floor. But I took away a very important lesson from this conversation which occurred huddled in a corner of a dance studio in small whispers and ballet shoes.
I am a teacher. That means I’m in the business of worrying about the type of people I put out into the world. And I can promise you this: I am more concerned about the people my students are becoming and who they will be, than I am concerned about their test scores or the schools they’re accepted into.
We have to place the spotlight on their strengths, and help them understand how to work with their weaknesses.
We have to teach them how to see and preserve the good, while working through the bad.
Instead of pointing out all of the reasons they should be afraid, I like to point out all of the reasons they absolutely shouldn’t be. This is their world, and their time, and I want to show them how to make the most of that.
We all have reasons to be afraid. The world reminds us every day of everything that could go wrong. Statistics predict the likelihood of our failure. And then there are those who shake their heads “no” and back away, or find reasons not to believe.
But, what if through all of those reasons we still… just believed? What if we let something play out and see what happens? What if we trust our little people to make good choices, to help when they’re called upon, to allow kindness instead of hatred, to think clearly about a subject even if they aren’t quite sure how to express it yet?
Let’s not feed the fears. Let’s not feed our own personal fears, or project them on others. Let’s not terrorize our children with threats.
Let’s work hard to be still, to find the happy and to stay there. To encourage. To believe. To trust. To listen. To celebrate.