Updated: Apr 28
It’s finally September and back to school for many kids. This is also a good time for us to decide if there's something new we want to pursue or something we want to pick back up. A fresh opportunity to open our minds to new concepts and lessons.
As individuals, parents, professionals, humans, we all benefit and grow from continued learning. Last week, I learned a wonderful little lesson from my son that reminded me how much I’ve grown through learning and why we should never stop.
The last few years for us have been elementary school and the first day has been a pretty big deal. I've always been unreasonably concerned with how my son looked. Did he have on new clothes? Was his hair cut properly? Did I pack everything he needed? He always put up a pretty big fuss and I figured it was because he was a little kid and didn’t like all the attention, grooming and most of all, the change in schedule. What I didn't know was that he was trying to teach me a lesson even then.
Last Monday was his first day of Middle School and I am happy to say that I have mellowed a bit over the years. I didn't get too crazy about new clothes, the haircut, contents of the backpack. I did still have those first day impression concerns though. I bought him a few new pairs of shorts, shirts, socks, trimmed his hair a bit, and gave him the option of wearing what he wanted. In the end, he did me a solid and wore a new pair of shorts and a decent pair of tennis shoes.
When he put on his shirt that morning, (which was nice looking by the way), I commented, “Don't you wanna wear a new shirt? You've been wearing that shirt all summer?” He turned to me casually, looked me square in the eye and said, “Mom, no one cares what I'm wearing.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. He was completely right. All these years I'd been stressing about how he looked on the first day school. I realized the stress was not about him, it was about me and what I thought, and what I thought others thought (that was a lot of thoughts). Not once has anyone said, “Boy, you really sent him out there looking shabby today.” What did I think they would say? Why should I care?
It took the sage wisdom of an 11-year-old to clearly point out that I was focusing on the wrong things. Even worse, I was measuring accomplishments and self-worth by the opinions and/or approvals of others. Not good. I should know better at my age!
This little lesson had me take a step back. First, I was very proud of my son for being an individual and for his ability to understand at this very early age, that living according to the expectations of others (source considered), is unnecessary and limiting. I hope he continues to feel this way as societal pressures increase with experience and age. Second, I was grateful that he had reminded me of the need to continue learning in general, and in the value of learning from others; no matter what the age of the teacher or the student.
I was grateful because I was reminded that the process of learning actually changed my path in life. For a very long time, things in my life were stagnant. Not bad, not good, just stagnant. No interests, no energy, no plans. I’d come to believe that this was how things were going to be. I'd reached a certain age with certain responsibilities and that was it. However, that stagnation led to unhappiness, and unhappiness led to sadness, and sadness led to depression. I stayed in that space a very long time. Hoping something would come along and just snap me out of it. You know, the magic moment when the path is made clear, and things fall into place. It didn’t happen.
I finally said enough is enough and looked to make a change in my situation. It's not an easy thing to do in that moment and I have so much love, respect, and support for those in the struggle that find the strength and sheer will to lay bare that pain and start the recovery.
While my personal interventions of nutritional changes, brief walks and motivational books kick-started my progress, working with a wonderful coach who gently guided me back to being curious was a vital step to rejoining life. It took a while because I had completely just shut down. When you’re depressed, nothing is fun. Literally, nothing is fun. People who have not experienced depression do not understand the depth of disconnection and numbness that come with it. Therefore, it was a steep climb at best. However, once I found something that awakened a little corner of my psyche (holistic health coaching), it was like a new world! All I wanted to do was pursue it. Read about it. Talk about it. It gave me something to look forward to. It got me out of bed in the morning. It gave me purpose and I grew from it.
What gives you that feeling? Don’t you want more of it?
When school is finished, the diplomas, degrees and certificates are on the wall, you’re not done. And if you are, you’ll quickly find that something is missing. What’s missing is the need to continue the evolution of who you are and who you can become. Whether it's formal education, meditation, Feng Shui or pickle ball! There's always something you can learn and the benefits of that new information are infinite in your life! I had to learn how to grow again as a person and that growth now has me learning more and more every day!
So, when I am pleasantly reminded in all the little ways that life sends you the message, of the need to continue that lifelong pursuit of learning, even if it’s from my own child, I appreciate and embrace it. Because…
If I’m still learning, I’m still growing.
Come grow with me!
Take care and be well,