”This work is so rewarding.”
“It’s important work.” “It’s needed.” “I found what I am good at.” “I am inspired every day.” “I am kind of person that has to enjoy my work”. “It’s service and service is important to me.” “I am passionate about kids”. While all of these are true, these reasons are not nearly the reason why I really want to change the life of a child.
So, let’s get down to it. Here’s my childhood profile. I was an only child, growing up in NYC, coming from a divorced home of artists without steady income, I had a parent with a dependency issue and another parent hustling to make ends meet, I often found myself alone – on several different levels. I was taking public transportation starting at age six, alone (imagine that in today’s society). I made my own lunch or stole money from my dad’s girlfriends’ wallets. My parents lived across town from each other and I was responsible for packing my weekend bags (I remember wishing I had enough clothes for both apartments, and found myself embarrassed by carrying my weekend luggage to school).
Often, I wondered where my place was, at which apartment?
I walked across town, rode my bike or roller-skated around the streets of lower Manhattan, alone from the age of six- eighteen. I learned to cook, clean and do laundry before I was nine. I watched other kids at school with siblings and mothers and fathers who were ‘together’ look happy and what I thought a family should look like. Even when I was spending time with each parent, I often felt alone.
I developed a shell, a hard protective shell. And I always made like everything was OK– as to not show pain or disappointment. I became a caretaker by survival, always wanting to please my parents. In school, on the outside I was just getting by, on the inside felt isolated. Although seemingly acclimated at school, there was often an inner tug of feeling different, not like other families, not being whole. Not knowing where to belong.
I could go on, but this isn’t a personal reflection on Julia’s Life Story.
This is a blog about WHY I do what I do. Let’s combine some great minds. A friend of mine posted a blog from favorite writer, Valerie Strauss (@valeriestrauss), who writes on all things education for the Washington Post. This blog has been republished from a teacher who wrote a dynamic open-letter to parents who are worried about their kids being exposed to other kids who might be disrupting their learning and how the teacher won’t divulge the most intimate details of another child’s life, so that she can protect the integrity of students going through whatever the issue is.
You have to read the piece to understand how powerful it is.
The piece is really about how wonderful, careful and skilled the teacher is… and I got to thinking, I might have been THAT kid. Feeling isolated, alone, insecure and sometimes withdrawn, and then acting out, I was that kid– not only in school, but definitely during after school hours. I reflected on teachers who took care of me and how I needed an adult to take care of me.
Here’s another alignment. This meme has been floating around Facebook for years about bullying.
Guess what? At times I was the bully. I became THAT kid in a more aggressive way. And those who are reading this understand why bullies are bullies. We bullied due to our own inadequacies, trying to cover for something else that is lacking. I was lacking, I was angry, sad and at times crying out for some kind of approval. Approval that I was strong, special or needed someone pay attention to me. I was going down the wrong path.
I needed a caring adult to show me my ‘possibility’ and ‘worth’. And THIS is my WHY.
I don’t ever want a child to feel the way I felt. I want young people to know that they are powerful, possible contributors to the world. I want to create practical tools, sustainable programs and develop initiatives that build relationships with ALL kinds of kids: underserved kids, rural kids, urban kids, affluent kids whose parents are absent, poor kids whose parents are working two jobs, foster kids, homeless kids, orphans, black kids, brown kids, white kids, special needs kids, just the average kid that somehow believes they are only average, gay kids, kids with eating disorders, kids with dependency issues, and the list goes on. I want young people to understand that they never have to feel alone.
I want young people to really understand that whatever voice is talking to them inside their beautiful minds during their most creative and vulnerable years, that it is a valuable voice. I want to create learning applications that kids enjoy – I want kids to know they have assets and they are powerful. I guess my WHY is self-serving, sue me! Or perhaps it may be driven by an authentic and real life experience that has translated into the current work I do. To reiterate my WHY: I want to change the life of a child so that they that they never feel alone, understand their personal power and can apply their potential into real life circumstances. #ThatIsAll
For breakfast, I had a Paleo shake with spinach, berries, banana, almost butter, coconut milk and cocoa powder.
Author Profile: @juliagabor