This one is going to be a challenging one for me to write. However, it’s the one I’m most passionate about. This is about the need to be vulnerable, and it’s challenging because I feel like a hypocrite. Hopefully, this post is…me not being a hypocrite. We shall see.
I was super-inspired watching my friends on the big stage Tuesday morning. It was a pleasure to watch Clara Alaniz speak about growth, and ignite the audience with her passion. I greatly enjoyed working with Clara in the Technical Working Group that refreshed the Educator Standards this year. She is a phenomenal educator with a heart for all kids.
Next, Jennie Magiera gave an amazing, heartfelt keynote highlighting several stories about education and humanity in general. I have always been inspired by Jennie’s brilliance, even before we worked together as coaches at Google Innovator Academy during #COL16. To bring it full circle, I first learned of Jennie’s work during her ignite at #ISTE2014 when she spoke of Teacher IEPs (Individual Exploration Plans).
I loved Jennie’s entire keynote, but most of all her vulnerability. One part specifically struck me, as she talked about how we tend to share our representatives online, and rarely provide a full picture. This really resonated, having had similar conversations with friends. We talked about how half-truths, illuminating only our wins, can backfire both in our personal and professional lives. In listening to Jennie speak, I realized that I talk the talk, but don’t always walk the walk.
As I said in the last post, I am a huge fan of irony….except when it comes to my own shortcomings 🙂 It seems that the more connected I have become, the less I have shared of myself. When I first connected in 2013, I immediately took to blogging, and it was Sarah Unfiltered. Sometimes snarky, sometimes sarcastic, far from perfect, and she was totally cool with that. She didn’t try to be perfect, and didn’t really care.
Perfect…how did that quote from Reshma Saujani go? “We teach girls to be perfect, and boys to be brave.”
Well, I definitely knew how to fake perfect, given all those early years of training in being a girl. But, I figured, why bother? Nobody would read it anyway. And if they did, they’d forget in five minutes. I was just having fun learning and making new friends.
Fast forward, four years in. Nothing has changed, while everything has changed. First of all, I have changed. I’ve matured and become more empathetic, thanks to many of you.
Generally, the longer/more you connect, the more your…ahem…reputation builds. Whether or not you choose to use the term “branding,” in my experience, this happens more often than not. So now, people are listening, and honestly, that can be somewhat scary.
Furthermore, I have changed roles, and am still in the process of figuring things out. My blog posts have trickled down to an occasional errant drop, like a broken faucet. While I’m screaming at the top of my lungs for everyone to “tell their story,” I somewhere became a little hoarse.
I strongly feel that us “old-timers” (ironically speaking…I’m 35 lol) have a responsibility to hold the door open for others by amplifying their voices. However, what I failed to realize is that we all have something to say. Again, we all have something to say. And everyone should share their stories, both for better and for worse.
As I stated in my first post from today, when I find myself feeling particularly human, I blog, because I process through writing. Nearly every time, I come back and pull it down a few hours later, because, as I tell myself, my brand is positivity. I realized at ISTE that my brand needs to be Sarah-Jane Thomas. I am human. I am flawed. I am me.
Things truly do come full-circle. I wrote this post several years ago, and now I find myself at the same crossroad, but the question is not “to brand, or not to brand,” as that ship has sailed a long time ago. What does strike me is point 2:
Acknowledging my weaknesses. We’re all human, right? I mean, last I checked…but anyway, nobody is perfect. Humans are a weird type of creature…it’s almost like the more you fail, the more other people like you. This is to an extent, of course…I mean, if you’re a total fail, you’re kind of a drag. But anyway, the more perfect you try to be, the more you’re going to get hated on. I just read this article today that says pretty much the same thing. It’s weird. The more perfect you try to be, the more people will hate. Isn’t the point to try and get them not to hate?Anyway, this is all to say not to be afraid to try, and even fail from time to time. Another benefit…according to the same article, the more you fail, the more successful you are. I guess that’s because it means you’re actually trying, instead of sitting on your derriere, trying to be Little Miss Perfect.
Interesting…thanks for the advice, Sarah from the Past.
I need to board my last flight home in a few minutes, so I’m going to wrap this up. However, I want to thank Jennie and other friends for inspiring me this week to return to the real. As a gesture of good faith as a non-hypocrite, I will actually go back and re-publish some of the posts that I took down. Deep breath…
Ok let’s start with those two for now. I still have lots left to blog. Not sure if I’ll actually do it, but I have a lot more thoughts. Anyway, later, gators.