I used to struggle to not take things personally. I wanted people to not only understand me, but agree with everything I was doing. I wanted them to head whatever direction I had chosen and cheer me on. The problem with that way of thinking, beside the fact that it was straight out of la-la land, was I was not going to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. I just had to live with that.
What helped me see the light? Children. Both at school and at home. I learned I could not ride that roller coaster of emotion anymore. People did not always agree with my teaching methods. People did not always agree with my parenting methods. I could not change my direction at someone else's whim. I'm not talking about constructive criticism or suggestions that proved helpful. I'm talking about those who force their opinions on you without knowing all the facts.
We've all experienced that parent who wants to make sure your classroom revolves around their student. Or that mom who feels it's her job to tell everyone else how to raise their children. You want them to experience your life for just a day. You are certain it would be eye-opening!
Maintaining order in a classroom full of kids is a full-time job. Not to mention the fact that you also have to teach them something! It's both a joy and a burden. It's emotionally energizing and draining. It's a lot of work. Do people who don't teach understand? Not really. Just as I can't understand what it's like to have the demanding job of nursing or being in the military or the life of a firefighter. We don't truly understand until we've lived it.
When I started the adoption journey I heard many opinions. The funny thing is that most came from families who had never adopted. It has made me much more aware of how I share my thoughts. Basically, I've stopped. I can only offer my experiences. That's really all I have. If you want to hear what I've learned over the years, just ask. If you want some helpful tips and practical suggestions to get through those first two years, just ask, I've got plenty. If you want to hear that the hard part ends and amazing begins, just ask, because it does. Just ask, because I won't bombard you. I promise. I won't.
Fielding opinions requires a thick layer of skin. I didn't have it back when I started in the teaching business, but I developed one quickly. You have to. Otherwise you won't last long. So many people. So many methods. So many critics. it's a tough spot to find yourself in. On one hand, these people matter. After all, I need to respect my principal's wishes, I need to meet the needs of the parents, I need to work with my fellow teachers. All these things are important. But how do I keep everyone happy? I can't. What I can do is try my best everyday, admit when I fall short and extend grace to those who make my journey harder than it needed to be.
Life is full of far too many opinions and not enough encouragement. I try hard to be an encouragement. I know what it's like to have those who have never walked in my shoes criticize my work, my kids, my life. I know. I understand. That's why I can only offer encouragement. I refuse to offer anything else. It's just not helpful.