Chill out, Miss Independent!

Some blog posts come together clearly and immediately. Some posts are more personal and make the publish button harder to click with every word. This post is both of those things.

I have the pleasure and good fortune to be working with an education team that is extremely encouraging and invested in my growth as an artist and a person. On top of being top notch teaching artists, they know how to be supportive without micromanaging, and are always ready to be a sounding board when I need to work through a problem out loud.

I’m a little more than half way through my fellowship at Metro (eeek! Don’t make me leave!), and as I reviewed my teaching experiences of the year so far, identifying lessons that I’d learned so far and skills I want to continue working on, I noticed something. I noticed that I had taught almost every residency with another teaching artist. I hadn’t done as much solo teaching as I had expected. Okay. No big deal, right? Well, my brain being what it is, something that starts out as an innocent observation can quickly turn into a giant piece of very harsh self-judgment. And that’s exactly what happened next. I came to the conclusion that if I was co-teaching or assisting a class, that must mean that I wasn’t able to teach it by myself. And remember those wonderfully encouraging co-workers I told you about? Yeah, that’s right, I also started to project my self doubt onto the people I work with, which turned into a giant fear that they didn’t think I was good enough.

Wait, what?!? STOP IT. JUST STOP IT. Okay? 

This was the first thing I told myself when I realized what was happening with this derailing train of thought. It was time to hit the re-set button in my brain. Take a breath. Look around. Then I realized: None of that is true. Not even a little bit true. I traced it all back to a terribly mis-linked connection in my thinking was tearing down my self-confidence. Since when did team teaching translate into lack of teaching ability?? What was I thinking?!

It’s no secret that I like doing things myself. But just because we CAN do something alone, doesn’t mean we HAVE to do it alone. I enjoy teaching on my own, and I learn a lot from that experience. The same is true for co-teaching and assistant teaching. Each one is a different kind of learning, and making a value judgment about any of it in this case is unnecessary, and frankly ridiculous. Here’s the bottom line: I have the opportunity and privilege to learn from wonderfully supportive, smart and creative teaching artists in a variety of capacities, and teaching with another person does not lessen my ability to facilitate a class on my own. In fact, it strengthens it because there’s another person in the room to learn from.

Sometimes speed and urgency and forward motion is exactly what we need. But this is an example of how easy it is to get ahead of ourselves. I am 23 years old, and I know that I have a lot to learn. I love that I have a lot to learn. But sometimes I love learning so much, that I just want to hurry up and know everything! And that’s not really what life is all about. Knowing things feels great, but the journey of acquiring that knowledge can be even better – IF we let it.

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