The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.Richard Bach
When my youngest was in kindergarten, I was the room parent. I was working part time on my career, to allow me to experience as much as I could as my children grew up. I volunteered for many of the learning centers, as my school district relied (and still does) on parents to supplement the deficits in teacher support (like paras). I got to know the children in the class and observe their academic progress. It was obvious from the beginning of the school year that one of the children was out of place. He was the youngest in the class, not even five years old yet. Anyone who has interacted with toddlers and children of school age can usually pick up the difference in speech, and of the nineteen kids in the class, he was the only one whose speech cadence could be described as “baby like.” While the other children in the class made significant strides in reading, writing, and math, he struggled through the entire year. At times, it was heartbreaking to me to see him acutely aware he was falling behind, and I would make it a point to work one-on-one with him as much as possible. But, unlike other students, who perhaps only lacked confidence or needed more effort, it was a case that he was developmentally not at the same level as the other children, and no amount of extra teaching support could help in this situation. Just time. The next year, I was in my son’s class as room parent again, and I walked by the kindergarten rooms. I looked in, and there was the boy, repeating kindergarten. I had mixed feelings, relief that he was in the level he should probably be, and a bit sad that he had been put into kindergarten a year too early.
Now, I appreciate that there may have been extenuating circumstances, such as lack of childcare, that may have pushed his parents to put him into school earlier than he was developmentally ready. Perhaps, they felt he was ready. Perhaps, they thought it would mature him. Who knows? I was surprised the school allowed it, as there are guidelines for age requirements, but in our school district, there tends to be a “if a parent complains enough, we will do it” mentality. But, from day one, it was obvious to me, and as time progressed, the teachers, that he was in the wrong place. Instead of facing this, the situation digressed and was allowed to continue as is. It seems to me, that if only the situation had been evaluated and been honestly addressed, it would have not happened, or at least been solved in a manner more supportive of the child. I suppose one can say he did repeat kindergarten, and that indeed may have been the only resolution for the school district. But, at the end of the day, if only there had been more honesty about his ability, he would not have suffered as I saw him during the school year.
We all tell lies: the white lie, the lie to save face, the lie to save feelings, the egregious lies that destroy reputations and lives. One could argue there is a time and place where accepting lies are okay, such as agreeing with a parent fawning over their child’s abilities, nodding to the coworker augmenting his importance on a project to boost his own self-esteem, not confronting the family member who is struggling with addiction but is still functional, so it’s not impacting anyone, right? But in the end, these lies in the best cases only delay true growth, and in the worst cases, destroy lives.
The same can be said about the lies we tell ourselves, everyday, about our own actions, wants, and needs. When I started running, I could barely walk a mile. I was on a mission to lose weight and improve my quality of life, and had signed up for what was an ambitious goal for an overweight, out of shape, couch potato–a 5k. To truly motivate myself, I signed up for a RunDisney event (hey, every mile is MAGIC!). I’d get into some semblance of shape, do something I’d never thought I was capable of, and do it in a place where dreams come true–Walt Disney World. How ideal is that? I researched a number of training plans, and one of them was the Jeff Galloway method, where you alternate walking and running intervals based on your physical level, to reach a pace you desire for a particular distance. The suggested method is to do this by time, for example, 15 secs of running and 45 secs of walking. However, not wanting to have to keep an eye on time while I was huffing and puffing, I decided to use the “mailbox interval.” I started with alternating running and walking between mailboxes in my neighborhood loops, and as I got more fit, it would vary. My first time I did this, I ran between one mailbox, then walked to the next. I was determined to do this for my mile loop. By the first quarter, I was so out of breath that I said to myself, what would it hurt if I didn’t finish the entire distance? Who would know? I had friends supporting me and would ask me if I was meeting my goal. I realized that I could lie and say I did the mile, and I could keep being “kind” to myself and ease off when it was too hard, but it would eventually show in my training and physical fitness. And I would never meet my goal. I could lie and say I tried. But, did I really? The bottom line was, if I wanted this, I had to be honest with myself about what it would take to get there, and if I wasn’t ready to do it, then I would fail. So, did I want this, or was I also lying to myself saying that I wanted it, but only if it was easy? In the long run (no pun intended), was I committed enough and realistic enough to do what it would take?
We all have a view of who we are, what we are, and what we are capable of in life. Many times, these are skewed due to our reliance on outside judgments (she’s pretty, she’s sweet, she’s kind, she’s ugly, she’s slow, she’s conceited, she’s too smart, she’s too much) that we accept as truths. We deny what we know is the truth and believe the lie. Often, it’s because of not being able to accept who we truly are, so we lie to ourselves to try to fit into what we think we should be. Sometimes, it is to assuage an insecurity we could be working on, to gain someone’s approval, or because we have a side of us that we feel is truly despicable and we need to pretend it’s not there. Until we can face ourselves in the mirror and love every part of ourselves, and acknowledge what we like and don’t like, what we are ready to and want to improve, what we truly want in this life and commit to what it takes to get that, we will never reach our true potential.
Did I meet my physical goal? Hell, yes. And, I have been racing in RunDisney events since then. Perhaps, if you RunDisney, we will meet one day. I’m not the fastest, I’m not the best, but I am enough. I live my truth everyday. Live yours.