Stop Trying to Be the Next. Be New. Be You.

For the past two days I've participated in a simulcast of IF: Gathering, a conference focusing on uniting Christian women, empowering them, and sending them. (If you're about to discount this as a faith post, I urge you to keep reading. I promise it will be applicable to you.) They pulled in a variety of different speakers from a variety of different races, passions, ways of thought, and vocations. I loved that they didn't focus on motherhood; they focused on womanhood. They recognized that those aren't always synonymous. As a bossy, pushy, selfish, vain show-off, I greatly appreciated this perspective.

One of the speakers stopped me in my tracks: Christine Caine. She speaks so quickly it's hard to keep up, but she's so passionate that you can't help but sit on the edge of your seat, longing for more. This woman's getting stuff done. She's helping stop human-trafficking. And she's got a fire burning inside of her.

One piece of her talk has been echoing in my head since this morning. And I believe it is true in all of our lives, regardless of gender, religion, race, or anything else. This is the gist of what she said:

Stop trying to be the "next _______." Be new. Be you. 

Embrace your generation. 
Embrace your time. 
Embrace your calling. 

As I think over all areas of my life, I find this both highly convicting and highly inspirational. Professionally, how often do I seek the recognition of others I encounter? How often do I steal their ideas or tools, hoping to be them? How often do I seek to recreate the success I see in other places? Now, I'm not saying that taking the ideas of others is a bad thing. However, when we don't morph them for our learners, our personalities, and our communities, it's a problem. When we implement tech just for the sake of using tech, we completely miss the point. I need to stop trying to be something I'm not. We need to stop to trying to be something we're not. We need to embrace our learners, our lives, and the way our lives fit within our job. Some days that may mean working twelve-hour days, but some days, we probably need to give ourselves a little more grace and step away. 

When I think of my students, I long for this to be true in their lives as well. I don't want each student or class to be the same. I don't want them to be the next; I want them to be new. I want them to share their unique personalities with me and their classmates. I want them to embrace the world they've been placed in, and I want them to find and pursue their calling. As Rebekah Lyons said today, "Calling is when your talents and your burdens collide." I want my students to know that and embrace that. I hope my classroom is a place where they can discover and hone their talents. I hope my classroom is a place where they can engage the world and discover what burdens their hearts. And I hope that my classroom is a place where they can embrace their calling. I think this is why an element of choice is so important to me in my classroom. I want to prepare them to be new, to be their real, true selves. Because that's what's going to change the world. 

Our world the needs the new. It needs more people to embrace who they are and the calling that's been placed on their lives. It needs more people who have crazy ideas and are willing to pursue them before anyone else. We need to be brave. After all, as e.e. cummings wrote, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."