you are here…

Posted on April 16, 2009

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Lately, my students have been focusing on their story. Well, I say lately. It’s more like, the theme of my classroom is “finding your story.” Lately, we have been focusing more on writing the story down. We started with writing life inventories (see this post for the inspiration behind this lesson) & posted them on Life in Thirty. It was amazing to see the student’s reactions & hear what they were saying about others’ lists. If you haven’t checked it out, I encourage you to read some of the lists on that site. They are…heartbreaking, insightful, hilarious…and the ones written by my loves are well, apparent. You’ll see.

So, in keeping with the tradition, I thought I would have the kids post their stories on a blog. They’ve been writing & editing & writing some more…& tomorrow we will post their stories on our new class website. I’m anxious to see what the kids are going to say. I’ve already read much of what they have written & am so inspired by their resiliency. The following is what I wrote as the first post to hopefully get them going:

You know when you are at a mall or an amusement park or anywhere that involves a map because it’s so huge you will lose your way without guidance? Well. You are here.

It’s (almost) the end of your junior year of high school. You’ve made it through a lot to get to this point – relationships. breakups. drama with your mama and with your best friend. drama with your ex-best friend. failures. successes. wins & losses. heartbreak. hope. despair. apathy. determination. All of these emotions & experiences culminate into an epic journey only YOU can complete. This begs the question: where do you go from here?

The answer? Anywhere.

Here’s the thing, though – you gotta remember where you’ve been.

Is this hard? You betcha. More often than not, it’s excruciating. You know this already. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t be so against writing your story. Putting on paper (keyboard, screen, whatev) what makes you…you. No – remembering where we have been is often the hardest part. But, it’s what helps us get to where we want to be.

The baseball player will often think of the grueling practices and painstaking drills when faced with 2 outs and missing the lead by 1 point in a championship game. It is those practices that have gotten him where he is. It is those practices that will push his team to a win – clenching the title.

The dancer will often think of the bloody toes and pinched feet right before her audition with Juliard. It is those moments of pushing through the pain that have given her the strength to pursue her dream. It is the diligence of practice that will allow her to excel & exceed any expectations.

These are just a few minute examples. It could be applied to anything, really. The girl with a broken home and an abusive father will remember the drunken nights when faced with a night of studying for a test that could make or break her graduation. It is those nights, in all of their pain & uncertainty & hopelessness, that forces her to push for a brighter future. It is those arguments that reveal to her the absolute necessity of studying for this test – so she can become something better than her upbringing.

Where you come from? What you go through? These things are important.

Which brings us to today.

You are here because your stories are important. You are here because your stories – all of them – need to be shared. Once everyone has submitted their stories on to the site, there will be almost a hundred stories of people just like you who have survived a tumultuous 16, 17, 18 year span. Some will be hilarious, others will be heartbreaking, still others will be thought-provoking & challenging. Submit your story. Read what others have written. But most importantly? Take this seriously. For some of you, this is the first time someone (or multiple someones) have even been remotely interested in who you are & where you’ve been. Be honest. Be gut-wrenchingly transparent with yourself & the others who will read. Why?

Who wants to read a fictitious autobiography? Why do you think stories hold such meaning? They speak of characters rising out of their circumstances – being a hero in a seemingly hopeless situation. You never know whose life will be changed by reading your story of hope despite difficult situations. Life isn’t pretty – most often, it’s pretty messy. So be truthful. And know that light is most beautiful when reflected off of broken glass.

Tell your story. Declare yourself. Someone will listen.

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Posted in: Education, Story, Teaching