The post title is a little off-putting, but let me explain. There will be times when I post about non-homestead related things because, well, my life doesn’t 100% revolve around my homestead. While it is certainly woven into my daily life, much like raising kids or drinking coffee, homesteading isn’t my entire life. From the end of August to the middle of June I work in the Special Education Department at our local high school. I have been a paraprofessional, ranging in duties, for five years now. At this moment, I am in my two final courses before my big culminating course to obtain my teaching license in Special Education.
I mainly work with grades 9-12, although I do dabble in the middle school and am at an elementary school for two hours each day getting my elementary hours for school. I adore my job. As rough and thankless as it can be, it is also wonderful and I get to be a part of these amazing lives. I have a tendency to get a little emotionally invested in my students–kinda hard not to when I’m with them for 7.5 hours a day! I have a soft spot for the ones that people have deemed “bad” or a “lost cause.” Don’t ask me why, but I find the good in them and love them until it shines through. Watching them for the past five years has brought SO much of my own life into perspective, including the part of me that was continually trying to impress everyone.
Oh, the Teenage Years
I watch my students, who are mostly all in their teens, have to navigate life everyday. I remember my teenage years. I went from an awkward, pretty geeky horseback riding freak to a wild child overnight. There was heartache (thanks, Ma, for always letting me sob on the kitchen floor and not making me move to my room,) there was a LOT of yelling, deception…you name it. I abruptly went from trying to be the perfect child to full-blown rebellion. And this was when the internet still made funny noises to connect (woo, dial-up!) and you had to push the 9 key 4 times to text the letter “s.”
Anywho…I digress. My students have SO many more resources than I ever did. The world is literally at their fingertips, or most of the time their thumbs. But with all those resources comes the ugly side. Internet bullying. Kids using substances younger and younger. Kids who don’t really have any parents because of the raging alcohol and drug abuse problem in our country. Kids who feel unloved simply because their family doesn’t care enough. I’ve said to hubs that if we had a big ole’ house and no kids, I would take them in.
The Wonderful Ability Not to Care
This title isn’t as crass or rude as it probably sounds. I do not mean to sound like I care about nothing. If anything, the things I care about I’m known to care a wee bit too much for some people. The things that are important to me are important, simple as that. I make time for them and make them a priority in my life.
I remember caring SO much about what people thought about me. Even when I was a geeky rider, I cared. I wanted people to think I was as smart, confident, and capable as I presented. I was so uncomfortable with myself that I just wanted validation that I was enough. I see this every day in my students. And it really pains me to watch them go through this. I remember a students saying to me that I was “just jealous and wish I was their age.” Y’all, I laughed so hard I started snorting. And quickly responded with, “there is not enough money in the world you can pay me to be 16 again!”
Even in my 20’s, I still cared what people thought about me. Not even what they thought about me, but that they thought I was “cool” and they liked me. I look back now thinking, “UGH!” So much time was wasted trying to impress everyone. And then I turned 31 (no, 30 was not a magical number for me) and something shifted.
I care how people think of me now. I care if I hurt someone–I want to fix it. I care that people think I am a good person. I care that people treat me, and those around me, with respect because that is what I give. I want to make someone smile each day. I want the kids who have nothing to know that I adore them, without judgement, and will be their biggest cheerleader. I want my girls to know that women can be whatever they want and do whatever they want–they just have to have the courage. I want my husband to know that I have his back and will stand with him for whatever.
But, quite frankly, I don’t care if you like me. I don’t care if you think my outfit is ugly. I don’t care if you notice I’ve been wearing the same pair of boots for 3 years because I adore them, scuffs and all. I don’t care if you think homesteading is stupid, or if you think the blogs I have created are dumb. I don’t even care (much) that my roots are showing, and you can see gray, because I haven’t had time to color my hair.
So what, right? It’s one thing to say it, but an entirely different thing to act on it. But that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Even when I feel that awful rage monster bubbling up and I am about to lose my cool, I can stop myself (most of the time, y’all, I’m human!) Do I still engage in petty gossip? Yes, I do. Not as much as I used to, because it makes me feel like a crappy person, but old habits.
My point is…analyze what you care about. If you’re trying to impress someone, look at the reason why. So they will hang out with you? So they’ll think you’re super cool? If you’re not being yourself, it’s not worth it. Becoming comfortable with myself, the good and the bad, is probably always going to be a work in progress. But I am doing it. Have I lost friends? Yes, I have. And it stung, and still stings at times. But I cannot sacrifice any more years not being me.
Whether you’re 6, 16, 32, or 67, I think it’s important that people think you are good. It doesn’t mean they have to agree with you all the time, it doesn’t mean you have to be BFF4L. But be kind. Treat everyone with respect. Think about what you say before it flops off your tongue and out of your mouth. Because the way you treat someone could be the make or break it for them.
Stay kind, my friends!