Bethany's Story

This blog was never meant to be anything it is now. In fact, it originally wasn't even enabled for public access. It was only a private online journal for therapeutic purposes. 

Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots was born from my three main obsessions (urban areas, little kids, and fashion) during my junior year of college - when my self image began to destroy me. I was falling victim to advertisements, photoshop, and beauty distortion everywhere. None of the other yoga-panted beauty queens in my education classes seemed to mind, but it just about wrecked me. 

Writing was my only weapon at the time, and I began sharing posts regarding my own frustrations with the fashion industry, beauty standards, and body positivity to improve my own mental health. It was going fairly well. I was even gaining an audience of teen and young adult women - particularly those who were already early mothers trying to raise a little daughter right in such a wrong world. 

Then I became a teacher. And my own insecurities were the least of my worries. 

I teach kindergarten in inner city Nashville. So every day, I stand before a room full of at-risk five year olds. Some don't eat until they come to school. Some only have about 5 outfits - one for each school day of the week. They are homeless. They are abused. They are neglected. 

I spend half my day as a teacher and half my day as a social worker / counselor, so I decided to return to school to pursue a Master's Degree in Social Work & Family Involvement. Suddenly, everything I learned from the insecurity I swore was an isolated teenage struggle could be used to help my kinder babies in their development of confidence, curiosity, and creativity. 
So many years of school and 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.

Every teacher has a niche. Everybody majors in some type of education, but after spending some time in a classroom of your own, teachers find that they are especially passionate about one aspect of education. Many return to school to pursue additional degrees in literacy, special education, or English as a second language. Some switch gears and become school counselors. Principals. Administrators for the district. All because they found that one aspect of their career was significantly more fulfilling than the others. 

Mine is emotional education. And people ask me a lot... If you're this passionate about confidence, self love, and mental health, why are you a teacher? It makes a lot more sense for me to go into 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 hindrance with these professions regarding self love is that they operate on the back end. 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. And the general education classroom is the best place to accomplish this. 

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 confidence and mental health, 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 confident!

No comments:

Post a Comment