I’ve wanted teach abroad in France since I came back from Normandy in 2010. Anyone who has gotten to know me during the past few years knows this. In fact, I should really just be thanking my friends & family for still being my friends & loving me after all of these years; they have had to put up with the countdowns, the endless chatter, occasional meltdowns, and the obsessing over deadlines (I have the BEST friends in the world!)
I have always made it a top priority to be a role model. This is one of the reasons I sought to become an educator– I strive to inspire people each and every day I come to work, tweet, or post a new blog entry. However, sometimes I doubt my abilities, my choices, to be the best role model I can be. But, I guess we are all our own worse critics (heck, if the voice inside my head was an actual person, I would really, really despise them, their negativity, and their nagging). I reflect daily on each and every interaction I have with my colleagues, restaurant customers, friends, family, and with others– how I was perceived, judged; how I came across, comparing myself to each and every other person in the room. This is a terrible, terrible habit– one I am trying so hard to break.
I discussed with one of my oldest and best friends tonight that we as individuals cling and replay moments in our head that we feel have most (poorly) shaped how we are perceived by others– moments that are most likely never given second thoughts by most others in the world (oh, the irony).
When I broke the good news to my closest friends and family via texting about my acceptance to teach in France, and then later that evening to Facebook/Twitter/my blog, I got a variety of responses:
“Dana, you might not know it, but your life is so exciting. You’re inspiring. I love reading your tweets on Twitter, I’m learning so much, and you’re following your dreams.” ~my good friend
“Dana, your daring hold-no-prisoners attitude have you in position to have experiences like no one else. You have always owned your life and I respect that more than anything,” ~My amazing aunt
I think back to what I have perceived as my *worst moments* as a role model; I perceive myself as obnoxious, upfront, intimidating, annoying, badgering, intense, and insecure. But, perhaps, during these *worse* moments, it is possible that I was actually being perceived by some as confident, dedicated, kind, open, brave, independent; someone who never gives up, and sticks to her beliefs (at least at this moment). These adjectives mean a lot. As a woman, I live in a society whose culture teaches (encourages) me above all to focus on my looks and my appearance. And, as much as I love a good fashion compliment now and again, these adjectives, these messages, these perceptions, mean so much more.
As cliché as this may sound, Thank you friends and followers, for reminding me I have people to write for, to inspire. I will strive above all to not let you down.