Bethany's Story

I remember the first time I ever noticed insecurity. I was standing next to her. I was in a dress. She was too. But she looked better. Her legs were longer, her thighs were thinner, her eyes were brighter, and her smile was sweeter. She was, by definition, prettier than me. 

That was at my kindergarten promotion ceremony. I was five years old back then. 

The second time I noticed it came when I began asking questions. "Can I start shaving yet?" "How do you apply eyeliner?" "What does it mean when my jeans are a 7 short?" I saw it in my mother's eyes. Suddenly, her sweet little baby girl was becoming a woman, and she was in charge of making this little princess into a queen. A confident, powerful, beloved queen. 

The third time I noticed it was when the 15-year-old love of my life broke my heart. We broke up because I had made myself into someone I wasn't, out of the assumption that my false self could be loved more than my real one. I recognized insecurity in two places this time: one, in my own broken heart, and two, in his eyes. The girl he cared for didn't even feel as though she could be herself around him. What did that say about his own character? 

That's when I started writing. Journals were filled with my thoughts as I began to take on life. It was my way to vent without spreading negative energy. It was my way to decompress after a stressful and frustrating day. It was a therapeutic art form I had come to know as I began my transition from self doubt to self love. 

Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots was born from my three main obsessions at the time: heavily metropolitan areas, the children I got to teach and tutor on a daily basis, and all things related to beauty and fashion. On January 5, 2016 I wrote my first viral post, Sincerely, the Band Directors Daughter, and I gained an immense following from teachers and arts educators everywhere. Suddenly, I had a following for my biggest platform (i.e. soap box), and I was going to use it.

Thirteen years of school. Four years of college, and still counting. I learned a lot in school (some things I use every day, and some things I never will), and I am still learning. But after all the essay writing, parabola interpreting, and fact memorizing... Not a single educator taught me the most important lesson. 

No one taught me to love myself. 

As an early childhood educator, I'm only certified through third grade. I hardly ever see a kid that's over 10 years old, and yet, I see signs of self-depreciation every day. "I can't do this," was the most frequent statement, later to be followed by, "I work too slow," and "I get too distracted," and then the final straw: "I'm so frustrated, Ms. Harper. I just feel so stupid." My heart shattered, and I realized I wasn't doing my job. Sure, my kiddos were reading. They were writing and counting, too. But they weren't becoming motivated. They weren't becoming confident. They weren't excited about school, or learning, or life in general. I was failing miserably. 

Crayons to Confidence was launched in November of 2016 as a way to tackle insecurity and inadequacy in the most crucial time of our lives; the early childhood years. If the foundations of reading and math are so important in this stage, why are the foundations of social learning and self-esteem any different? 

Will my articles save a teenage girl from anorexia? Probably not. Will they prohibit a college guy from buying into the sex-filled atmosphere? I doubt it. But will the impact I have (and all my readers have) on the lives of these young children ultimately save them from growing into victims of insecurity? Now that just might work. 

Life and learning should be exciting. Creativity is dying. We should read, and read often. Make a huge mess. Get them moving. Sure, teach them how to read and write. Teach them how to count and spell. But above all… Teach them that they are smart. Teach them that they are talented. Teach them that they are important.

This is a question I get a lot... If you're so into writing and so serious about self love, why the heck are you going to be a teacher? Good question. If I'm this passionate about beauty distortion, self love, and creativity, it makes a lot more sense for me to go into the fashion industry. Perhaps modeling, makeup design, or even skin care. Or what about the psychological industry? I've had people tell me I should look into being a therapist or a social worker. And I do have so much respect for individuals in these professions. We need them now more than ever. But my personal issue with these professions regarding beauty distortion is that they all operate on the back end. The fashion industry has too many guidelines and limitations to make any real immediate progress, and psychologists and social workers both work to save individuals after they have fallen victim to such toxicity. 

I wanted to work on the front end. 

Teachers have a choice: they can create a factory out of their classroom, where students learn to read, write, solve equations, and memorize facts. Or, teachers can create a community where students feel valued, respected, intelligent, talented, and given attention for their abilities rather than their disabilities. A teacher is one of the few people left in society who has the job to enhance the personal gifts each child possesses while also developing some new ones. A teacher's primary job is to turn discouragement into faith, hope, and success. And that's what I do best. The more a child grows up knowing they are valued for everything they are rather than judged for everything they are not, the less we'll have to fight this toxic battle. 

Sometimes you'll hear stories about the kids I teach, or the lesson plans I used to integrate self love and creativity with academics. Sometimes you'll hear about the my personal struggles, the support of my family, or how I decompress on my days off. But it always surprises me how much of each post inevitably relates to each person's confident beauty, and how important it is that we take the time to notice it.

It's our job to make sure our kiddos notice what makes them special, but first, we must make sure we're taking the time to notice what makes us special, too. It is impossible to model strength, beauty, and power if we do not first believe that we are strong, beautiful, and powerful. That's what we're doing here. So bust out the crayons and get ready to play. We're diving in head first to fight this toxic battle like the adventure heroes and warrior princesses we are.

Let's get creative!

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