When the Evidence Is Against Us
An advisee came into the room disheartened and resigned. This normally positive, outgoing, and friendly kid walked in with weight on his shoulders and sadness in his eyes.
This week was the end of our first semester, and this kid didn’t perform as well as he thinks he should’ve. He had made promises that the second quarter would be better than the first. It wasn’t.
He felt that he let his parents, teachers, me, and himself down. He shared about feeling like a failure and feeling alone. He loves being a part of this school community, but he wondered if he belonged here at all.
He also said he knows he can do better, but he just keeps falling on his face academically. And boy was he wrapped up in a lot of stories about falling on his face academically.
Our conversation continued, and it was the kind of conversation I’m sometimes thankful that students’ parents can’t overhear - the kind of conversation where I say that academic success is great, but that there’s something that matters more.
And I acknowledged him like crazy, and let him know that he’s the kind of student that teachers NEVER forget - and not because of his grades, but because of his attitude and spirit.
And I told him he didn’t have to stay at this school, he can go back wherever it is he thinks he should be. But he first has to understand that there’s not some kind of truth about that; in fact, he's actually the only one who thinks he doesn’t belong. In my world he is this school, and he makes it a better place for all of us.
Many of us adults have a sense that our stories about reality are not the same as reality, but we still so often cage ourselves within stories of our own making or stories we inherited. Our stories are what bring the heaviness and suffering to our lives.
This student didn’t do that. He walked into the room caged up, and he left free. He got in touch with something in our conversation - he got in touch with what he loves about himself, and he realized that that part of him matters so much more than his grades in Science and French.
Of course it does! The gold that we walk around with all day every day is what’s craving to be expressed.
We think the circumstances need to be perfect for us to live fully expressed.
We think the circumstances need to be just right for us to finally live the life we know that’s inside.
We think the people in our lives, the results we’re producing, and our feelings about ourselves are what’s keeping us from being expressed, fulfilled, in action, and in love with life.
None of that is true, and this 15-year-old got it. In our conversation this week, he shook off those limiting thoughts and feelings and stepped back into the integrity of who he is.
I’m going to support him in doing better academically, and that may or may not happen. But two things are crystal clear to me:
It’s going to be a heck of a lot easier supporting him when he isn’t weighed down and held back by the stories he was carrying.
It’ll matter a lot less whether his grades improve or not, because he’s already in touch with what will make him most successful in life - his own authentic, empowered, courageous, generous, and passionate expression of his innate wholeness and integrity as a human.
I invite you to step through your own stories about yourself, others, and your circumstances. I invite you to start expressing that life that’s already pulsing inside you and craving to be let loose into the universe.
It’s not our circumstances that hold us back - it’s our stories about our circumstances. Sometimes they’re scary stories, but fear doesn't have to stop us. In fact, it’s much safer out here than you think.
My advisee isn't going to wait until his grades improve before he starts living a fulfilled life. Maybe we can all learn something from him.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️