Every day, I attempt to teach students how to take personal responsibility for their actions and choices. It’s frustrating, tiring, but rewarding. Every day, I encourage them to dissect the rhetoric of “I can’t” and “I won’t” and gently redirect it to: “I choose not to” because “I’m afraid.” I often hear my students say,
“I can’t write essays”
“I can’t come in at lunch”
“I can’t get an A”
If I take personal responsibility for my actions, what does that mean for me? What choices am I making to inhibit my learning and growth?
I choose not to improve my writing because I prefer to spend time with my friends at lunch. And so…
I choose not to come in at lunch.
I choose not to do the extra work to get an A.
“I can’t run.”
“I can’t wake up an hour early to eat breakfast.”
“I can’t give up sugar.”
“I can’t find time to cook healthy food.”
I chose to eat sugar.
I chose not to run and exercise.
I chose to eat processed foods because I choose not to take the time to cook healthy food, and perhaps most importantly,
I chose to put everyone else first.
I chose to go to the gym.
I chose to run.
I chose to give up all processed foods.
I chose to swim.
I chose to lift weights.
I chose to bike.
These were choices that worked for me, and that I have integrated into my life over the past eight months. There is no “right” or “perfect” formula. Each person is different and has to figure out what works for him/her.
Perhaps more importantly, I have chosen and embraced growth. Much like running or working out, it is often painful and challenging. I am learning to enjoy those painful moments just as much as the painless ones.