Recently, I posted a photo with some of my writing on Facebook. I usually stick to Instagram or my blog for in depth posts, but for some reason, I felt compelled to share. Two people I don't stay in touch with, who both had an enormous impact on my life, commented on the post and it really got me thinking.
I'm lucky to have parents who always believed in me. They've constantly given me their full, unwavering support, no matter what I'm doing. Well, let's be real - my dad wasn't exactly thrilled with my announcement that I was bailing on my dreams of becoming an editor and moving to the Virgin Islands to become a bartender, but he came around eventually.
Our family and friends want us to succeed because they love us. It's important to have support from those closest to you. But feeling deep down that someone (who isn't your parents) believes in you is powerful in a different way.
Which brings me back to my Facebook post. First, there's Nancy. She is the angel who gave me my first yoga teaching audition at a gym.
She wrote: "And I knew you when...and saw your spark then..."
I remember the audition like it was yesterday and I genuinely believe that was the most nervous I've ever been in my life. Okay, maybe it was when my piano teacher talked me into playing at my high school baccalaureate and my hands were sweating so much my fingers were slipping off the keys, but this was a close second.
Before the audition, I tried to tell my mom I couldn't go because I was sick (yes, I know what you're thinking - is she talking about when she was in high school? But no, I'm talking about when I was 28 and living at home and trying to get out of going to a job interview). My mom showed no mercy and told me to suck it up so I ended up going to the audition. I almost cried in the beginning, stayed on my yoga mat the entire class (literally, you would've thought there was lava surrounding me) and seriously considered running out of the room at least six times. It was just Nancy and I, and after I finished, she gave me the warmest, kindest smile and said, "You can't stay on your yoga mat the entire class like you did just now, but you have a lot of potential. I believe you're going to be a wonderful teacher."
She gave me the job. Not because the audition went well (I was terrible) but because she believed in me. Nancy was my mom's pilates instructor, that's how I got the audition - and she ended up becoming a constant source of support and encouragement in the beginning of my career. She took my classes at the gym often, gave me feedback and was my biggest cheerleader. Knowing that a powerful, successful teacher believed in me gave me the confidence to keep going when others questioned me, or more often, when I was questioning myself.
Next, there's Mr. Lem, my high school English teacher. His comment said: "You still write well."
Mr. Lem was the first teacher who ever told me I was a good writer. He pulled me aside one day and very seriously told me I had a gift and I should pursue writing. I fell in love with poetry and creative writing in his classes and journaled constantly, but I didn't like sharing my work. To me, writing is a form of art. And art is very personal. It's hard for some artists to share their work because it's their baby - they've poured their heart and soul into creating something that means so much to them and when someone is critical of your work - it can be devastating. That's one of the reasons it took so long for me to start a blog. I was afraid of the following:
#1 - That no one cares what I have to say.
#2 - Those who do care will think my writing isn't good enough.
I've found these two reasons hold so many of us back from pursuing what we're passionate about. We're afraid we're not good enough and/or we think people don't care about what we dream of creating.
A poem I wrote in high school from one of my many journals.
Mr. Lem constantly told me I was a gifted writer. He checked in with me throughout college to make sure I was still writing. He wrote me a recommendation letter without hesitation when I applied for creative writing graduate school programs when I was 25. When I start to question my ability to write or whether people care what I have to say, there is something in the back of my mind that tells me to keep going. It's fueled by these people who saw something in me long before I believed in myself.
When you see that spark in someone, do whatever you can to help ignite the fire. Even if all you see is a flicker of talent, passion or creativity - point it out to them, because all too often, the flame gets buried underneath fear. We're all afraid to put ourselves out there at times. Right now, as I write these words, I'm wondering if this is even worth posting. I'm wondering if anyone really cares what I have to say and if you do care, I'm afraid of what you're going to think about this personal story I just shared with you.
But thanks to Mr. Lem, I'm going to hit "Publish." I'm going to do my best to point out the talent and potential I see in everyone around me, and I encourage you to do the same. You never know what kind of an impact you may have on a co-worker, student, acquaintance...even a stranger.
I'm grateful for all the incredible people in my life who took the time and energy to keep pushing me forward. Nancy and Mr. Lem happened to comment on my Facebook post that day but there are so many others and I hope you know who you are. Magic happens when you surround yourself with people who believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself quite yet.
Thank you for believing.