Yes, You Are a Teacher
September 5, 2012
By Jen Louden
I know, all the way down to my purple nail-polished toes, you are a teacher. As in: You have something to share with the world that you care so much about, sometimes you think you’ll burst with your love and passion for what you love … and maybe, burst from frustration. Frustration, because you aren’t getting it out there. You aren’t sharing it. You aren’t taking your seat as a teacher.
I was thrown pell-mell into teaching at the ripe age of 28 when my first book, “The Woman’s Comfort Book,” became a word-of-mouth best-seller. I was asked to teach workshops and give talks. Sometimes I spoke to seven people in a church basement, sometimes to 1,000 in a hospital auditorium. I had no idea what I was doing. I spent so many of those years – when I could have been having a blast and being of far greater service – worrying if I was good enough. Feeling like a fraud. Illegitimate.
Who was I to be teaching women about self-nurturing, self-kindness and self-love? I certainly didn’t love myself all the time. I struggled with all kinds of shadow comforts and time monsters (the things we do that don’t really nurture us or move us toward our most alive life). Plus, nobody was talking about any of this stuff then – outside of recovery circles, so I felt like a fraud and a flake. What I was doing didn’t feel tangible or important to me, even as I got thousands of letters telling me how much my work was changing lives.
Fast forward 20 years and thousands of hours spent teaching. Here is what I need you to hear now: You are legit because you care … because you are curious … because you show up … because you love what you share.
Please take a moment to let that truth sink into your heart and bones. Breathe it in.
Then, if there are any voices that say something like:
But I need a degree.
I need more experience.
I have to be smarter.
I have to be more serene.
I should be able to do tree pose without wobbling.
I’d have to be like Kris and be vegan and juice every morning and meditate faithfully. …
Please tell those voices this, “I may need to learn more to be the teacher I want to be. But that has nothing … NOTHING to do with my legitimacy. I am legit because I care … because I am curious … because I show up … because I love. That love is noble, that love is legit. And I will honor it by taking action to share what I love.”
It’s just like everything in life, right? So many messages yammering at you to question your own knowing, to doubt yourself, to compare your insides with others’ outsides, and then try to fix what’s missing.
That fixing place will never lead to honest and helpful teaching. Humble questing, the desire to evolve, asking “What do I need to learn to best teach this?” Those are great questions to ask. Fixing yourself, doubting your caring, trying to be perfect at what you wish to share? That way lies great suffering.
Your love and passion for your subject is the bedrock on which all your other credentials rest, and without which, those credentials simply don’t matter.
There have been powerful, compelling teachers whose ONLY credential was their own interest in the topic and their experience. Author of the “The Artist’s Way” Julia Cameron didn’t go to school to learn about teaching people to unlock their creativity. She created, she wrote, she composed, and she noticed the process. Natalie Goldberg meditated and wrote a lot, but it was her struggle with her own writing and paying attention to that struggle that gave us “Writing Down the Bones.” I don’t have a certification in self-care. I took my pain over having no idea how to be kind to myself and turned it into a way to help people. Yes, I did a ton of research and experiments, but so can you!
So please: Waste no time questioning your own legitimacy. It was such a waste of my time and energy, learn from my mistake! Pour that energy into learning, into your students, and into your outreach instead. Pour that energy into living the love you feel for what you wish to share. You’ll be so happy you did. And so will we!
A best-selling author of six books, Jennifer Louden leads retreats, coaches women, writes and explores life on an island in the Pacific Northwest. She co-created the popular course “TeachNow” with Fortune 500 executive trainer Michele Christensen, in order to empower people who need more confidence, more income, and more power in their teaching. Enjoy the wonderful library of free action guides at http://theteacherspath.com/to help you learn immediately how teaching can help you thrive.
Photo credit: Bill S