A Vow to Myself

image from icanread

I look in the mirror, studying every flaw so that I can later point them out to my husband.  To make sure he knows that I know that I don’t look like when we first met, 13 years ago.

I see the flab, the stretch, the things that gravity have not been kind to and I squint, and I wish, and I wonder what can be done other than never showing any of these parts to anyone every again.  Because who wants to see this version of Pernille?  Who will ever think that this body is any good?  And then it hits me.  This body bore 4 children, 2 of them at the same time.  These arms that I am wondering whether I should show are the same ones that hold my children, that hug my husband, that allow me to do so many things.  These legs and my giant feet are what takes me through the world, that allow me to run after the kids, to rush to help, to climb the stairs to soothe a child with nightmares.  This face with its wrinkles, eyes that are tired, skin filled with imperfections is what I use to share my love, my laughter, my happiness with anyone who crosses my path.  This body is what allows me to be a mother, a woman, a teacher trying to change the world.

We are our own worst enemies.  We point out every flaw we can find and flaunt it to the world so that everyone will know that we know we are not perfect.  That others will know that we do not think highly of ourselves either, that we know we are nothing special.  We do it in front of our children so that they can learn that as grown ups  we are riddled with flaws that mean we are not as good as we once were.  We tear ourselves down so that others don’t have to.  We tear ourselves down so that we will not threaten others in their hunt for perfection.

We do this as teachers too, we get quiet when someone compliments us, mumble thanks, pass it off as if what we do is just something that happens and not something that we work so hard at.  We don’t point out our own greatness but will gladly share our flaws.  We invite others to criticize yet hardly ever share our strengths, our talents, our moments of glory that keep us coming back.  We reflect on our teaching and only see everything that we failed at, every mistake we made, every thing that we wish we could change, and don’t see all the good that we do every single day.

This is my vow to stop.  This is my vow to allow myself to feel good.  Not just about my body but also about what I do.  I work hard at being a good mom, I work hard at being a good wife, I work hard at being a good person, I work hard at being a good teacher.  I will not wait for others to point out my moments of greatness, I will look for them myself.  I will not stand in front of a mirror and tear myself apart anymore.  The negativity stops with me and it stops today.  Who is with me?

I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” can be pre-bought now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

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9 thoughts on “A Vow to Myself

  1. faige says:

    A post that speaks to me loud and clear. Imperfections, what are they anyway, but a showcase of years well spent. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Heather says:

    Thank you, Pernille. This is exactly what I needed today!

  3. lisamnoble says:

    My bigger question starts to become why we do this? What is it in is that makes us put ourselves down, dig out the flaws, be unable to take a compliment – what is the particular combination of being a woman and being a teacher that does this to us. Thanks for the manifesto. You do amazing things every day, as do we all – using our PLN to celebrate that is a big step, I think.

  4. Deb Pulst says:

    I am giving this post a standing ovation! I’m in-personally and professionally!

  5. Anne Reardon says:

    Thanks, Pernille. You always seem to put things into perspective!

  6. Emily Morris says:

    I absolutely agree and resonate with this. The critical voice in our heads does more harm than we usually realize. Good for you for vowing to change that voice into a positive, and for vowing to show yourself love. I have been working on self-love for the past year, and something someone else wrote stuck out to me…they said that what other’s think or feel about you has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with that person’s capacity to love. And in the same way, how we feel and think about others has everything to do with ourselves and nothing to do with them; how we feel and think about ourselves and others reflects our capacity to think, feel, and love. Just food for thought :) lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  7. sarahholst says:

    Thank you, Pernille. I needed this today.

  8. […] Ripp’s blog about “Education musings” is the kind of blog I can be on board with.  In this post, […]

  9. naini says:

    Pernille, you have spoken my mind. I just love what you said! So powerful. And everything you said is absolutely how I feel like ALL the time!. Thank you for inspiring me not to wait for compliments any more, but truly feel my greatness!!! Love it!!!

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