Brave Enough to Care & Try

I didn’t to write about this, but I generally write about what I experience. Even the hard stuff. Because somewhere in the hard stuff, I can find the good. Often that good is personal growth or perspective.

Last week, I was on a flight home when our plane encountered severe turbulence. As someone with flight anxiety, this can be very challenging. During these difficult times, I have to talk myself through rigid thinking. Before takeoff, if the pilot says that that it will be a bit bumpy during “this part” of the flight, I hold tightly to that and expect no bumps during any other portions of the flight. In this case, the pilot said that there would be turbulence coming out of north Florida, but it should be a smooth flight after that time. So, we flew out of Florida and made our way into other states. Flight attendants were executing food and beverage service, and I was feeling pretty good about my little Diet Coke and the smallest bag of Sun Chips I’ve ever seen in my life. Within seconds of holding these items, things got very bumpy and scary. So much so, in fact, that the pilot quickly came on the intercom and in an almost shouting tone exclaimed, “Seatbelts on NOW!”

My beautiful friend, Michelle, was sitting next to me. This was scary for her too. She looked at me, knowing my struggles with these types of things, and she later told me that my face had gotten very pale and my lips were dark. My legs were bouncing uncontrollably, and it was difficult to breathe deeply.

I was having a panic attack.

I closed my eyes, focused on my breaths, and one of the flight attendants came by to offer encouragement and told me to think of the color blue. Minutes seemed like hours, but we made it through. It makes me tear up thinking about the way Michelle held my hand through it all. True friends love in a big way.

It’s been over a week since that flight home, and I’ve been struggling with what doctors suspect may be a type of Vertigo. It feels like I’m rocking on a boat when I try to walk during certain moments of the day. They’ve gone on to explain that there are these tiny crystals in our inner ears that support our balance and send messages to our eyes. When one of those tiny, little crystals is out of place, it can wreak havoc on our balance.

I can’t help but see the beauty in this annoying situation. That little things can have a big impact. So often, we picture impact and change as big gestures, events, or projects. It’s also easy to think, “I am so small and the problems are so big, so what can I really do to change anything?”

If all of these crystals in all of our ears decided to give up, none of us would be able to function. If Michelle hadn’t decided to hold my hand and talk me through, we could have had a medical emergency on that plane.

If we all do our small part and keep showing up to do our small parts every day, big things can happen for our students and for this world. It merely requires all of us doing our small parts. Simply put, let’s be brave enough to care and strong enough to try.

And even if no one notices our small moves, let’s do it any way. And even if no one thanks us, let’s do it anyway. In our schools, let’s greet students at the door. Let’s use their first names correctly and have conversations with them. When we need to talk about hard things, let’s pick up the phone and call instead of hiding behind our keyboards. Let’s hold the door open for people and look people in the eye when we greet them. Let’s hand-write thank you notes.

Whatever this means to you, do that small thing that feels right. It matters. You matter.

There’s an African proverb which states, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” Or in my case, if you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t had a crystal misplaced in your inner ear.

There are no small moves or small positions.

Move. Do it small if you need to but do it with big heart and consistency. Simply keep showing up. The world needs people who are care and are willing to try, learn, and try again. It’s that simple.

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