5 Lessons My Preschoolers Have Taught Me

5 Lessons My Preschoolers Have Taught Me

When I decided to make a career change to become a preschool teacher, one of my main motivations was the desire to learn something new. After working in Social Media Marketing since college, I felt like I wasn’t growing or learning any new skills, and I knew I was ready for a challenge. Since starting at my preschool in April, I have learned a lot through training courses, attending kids yoga teacher training, and an early childhood education conference. I always enjoyed school, so it’s been nice to be back in classroom-like settings to learn how I can be a better teacher.

As much as I hope I’ve been able to teach my preschoolers a thing or two over the past few months, I think I’ve learned even more from them. There’s a lot we can learn from children, and preschoolers are especially fun to learn from because they are so uninhibited by the world around them. I frequently look at my students and think “wow, I wish I was more like you!”

Here are some of the life lessons I’ve taken away from my last few months as a preschool teacher:

Don’t be afraid to share your emotions openly

Preschoolers have yet to learn about the societal pressures around pretending to be okay when you’re not. How many times have you answered with “fine” or “I’m good, how are you?” when someone asks you how you’re doing? One of my favorite things to witness is a child get upset, and when asked if they are okay, yell “No, I’m NOT OKAY!” There’s something quite refreshing about the idea of being honest with how you are truly feeling in a given moment. I teach my kids to communicate their emotions, and they remind me on a daily basis how important that is.

Forgive quickly and don’t hold grudges

It’s rare, if not impossible, to go through a single day without a fight. If you’ve never witnessed a fight between two tiny humans, it typically involves one or more of the following: Stealing a toy, screaming incoherently, pushing/hitting/pulling hair, immediately running to a teacher to tattle. It’s quite a sight to see! But what’s even better to watch is the post-fight making up, which typically involves one or more of the following: Saying “sorry” and “I forgive you”, hugging, promptly forgetting it ever happened 5 minutes later. If only adults were that quick to forgive and forget! In my experience, holding a grudge only hurts me, and learning to let go and forgive can really set you free.

Be observant and ask questions

Much like a fight, we cannot make it through a day at the preschool without being asked about a million different questions. “Ms. Shelly! Why is so-and-so sad? Ms. Shelly! What are you doing? Ms. Shelly! Why are we doing this?” As adults we tend to get so wrapped up in our own head that we forget to take a look around us and ask questions about what we’re seeing/experiencing. Sometimes the questions get excessive or intrusive, but it’s always entertaining. One of my all-time favorite (read: least favorite) moments was when I kid out of the blue asked me: “Do you have a baby in your belly?” LOL

Ask for, and go after, what you want

I’ve never heard a preschooler add qualifiers like “if it’s not too much trouble” or “if that’s okay” after asking for something they want. They just go for it! Whether it’s asking to be held, or saying they want to play with a toy, they’re straight forward and relentless when going after what they want. I often feel nervous or guilty asking for what I need from someone because I’m constantly worrying about how they will feel. I’m not saying we should all stop thinking of others, but when it comes things that are important to you, why not have the confidence of a toddler and just go for it?

Be yourself and don’t worry about what others think

Multiple times a day I look at one of my kids and think (or sometimes even say out loud) “You are SO WEIRD but I LOVE IT!” Preschoolers are at that innocent age where they don’t yet have an awareness of other people’s perceptions, so they can’t really worry about what others think. One of the things I’ve had to work on over the years is not caring so much about what other people think of me, and I feel inspired every day seeing how my preschoolers are unafraid to be their true, unique, silly selves.

Teaching preschoolers over the past few months has been a joy, and I can’t wait to learn more from them. Let’s all strive to be a bit more like a child sometimes, shall we?

26 Lessons I Learned This Year

26 Lessons I Learned This Year

Last year on my 25th birthday, I wrote a post called 25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but I’m back with a similar post in honor of my 26th birthday. This time I thought I’d share lessons I learned this past year specifically. It was a year of a lot of change and personal growth, so I found it surprisingly easy to come up with 26 lessons I wanted to share with you all.

So, in no particular order, here are 26 things I learned this year:

  1. I learned to embrace all parts of myself, especially the parts I try to hide, suppress, or deny. In Jungian psychology, there’s something called the “shadow”, which essentially refers to the things we don’t like about ourselves. Those personality traits we wish we didn’t have. This year I’ve finally learned to embrace my shadows and listen to the gifts they are trying to give me.
  2. I learned that putting myself first is not selfish. I finally started looking out for my own best interests, and standing up for myself.
  3. I learned I need to take responsibility for my own happiness. I can complain all I want, and feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way, but at the end of the day I am the only person who has control over how I’m feeling.
  4. I learned that not doing something for fear of failure feels much worse than trying and failing. I had my fair share of “failures” this year, but I also had a lot of moments of courage that paid off. I always regret non-action more than I regret trying and failing.
  5. I learned everyone has a different timeline for their life. My life might not follow the exact same path, or timeline, as my friends. And that’s okay. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I will get everything I want in life exactly when I am meant to.
  6. I learned that every year will bring new friendships. I always like thinking about the people who helped me celebrate my birthday this year, versus last year. Each year brings so many amazing new friends into my life.
  7. I learned forgiving others and forgiving yourself can set you free. Holding grudges causes so much stress, and really weighs me down. This year I finally learned how to let go of the past, from things others have done wrong to things I have done wrong.
  8. I learned to use my voice to stand up for what I believe in, and share my opinions. I spent so many years feeling afraid to be vulnerable and talk about how I really feel. This year I finally realized people want to hear what I have to say.
  9. I learned there’s always someone else going through something similar. Talking about what I’m going through (on this blog, social media, or in person) can help others feel less alone.
  10. I learned therapy and life coaching only gets me so far if I don’t make the effort to help myself. I’m unashamed to say I’ve utilized therapy and coaching this year, and both have helped me a lot. But they are certainly not a cure. I have to find ways to help myself.
  11. I learned feeling better on a daily basis is as simple as doing more of what makes me feel good, and less of what makes me feel bad. One of the ways I’ve started helping myself is by doing more “self-care” which just means doing more of what lifts me up, and less of what brings me down.
  12. I learned most things in life aren’t black and white, and most situations and people are way more complicated than they seem. I changed my perspective on a lot of topics this year by being more open-minded and realizing not everything is as simple as it seems.
  13. I learned that a simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way. There were plenty of times this year where I messed up and was worried I couldn’t fix it. But in my experience, just saying sorry was the key, and people are more forgiving than I expected.
  14. I learned past traumas will follow me until I stop avoiding or suppressing the memories. I finally started acknowledging, and more importantly, talking about past experiences I hadn’t been ready to confront in the past. It really helped to stop bottling it up.
  15. I learned it’s okay to be vulnerable. People really appreciated it when I opened up more this year and wasn’t afraid to be emotional or talk about difficult topics.
  16. I learned I can’t predict or plan how my life will go. I have to just live in the moment. I’ve always been a planner, and I hate not knowing what’s going to happen in my life. But I took a step back this year and learned to appreciate the unknown.
  17. I learned my intuition is almost always right, and I need to listen when that inner voice is telling me something. I’m the queen of second guessing myself, but this year I started to get the hang of trusting myself more and not ignoring my gut feeling.
  18. I learned some of the best memories will be the simple moments. This year was filled with game nights, deep conversations at coffee shops, going on walks with my mom, weekly dinners with my dad, happy hours with friends. The simple times are the moments that stay in my mind.
  19. I learned it’s okay to ask for help. I’m the type of person who always wants to figure things out for myself, and I always feel hesitant to admit I need help. I’m finally starting to break that habit.
  20. I learned not every job will be the right fit, and I deserve to find a job that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. Job satisfaction is something I’m still striving for, and this year made me realize I need to make it a priority.
  21. I learned it’s okay to be single. I was single this entire year, and I learned a lot about myself and finally got to a point of seeing the benefits of being alone.
  22. I learned I want to see as much of the world as I can. Travel is such a passion for me, and I’m glad I made an effort to travel more last year. I intend to do the same in 2019!
  23. I learned being my own worst critic doesn’t do me any good. Beating myself up always makes things worse. I might as well be my own biggest supporter!
  24. I learned exercising and eating healthier really does make me feel better. It seems obvious, but I spent a long time avoiding it and finally started embracing a healthier life towards the end of 2018.
  25. I learned everyone else is just as confused and scared as I am. Whatever I’m feeling at any given time, there are countless others feeling the same way. We’re all just doing the best we can!
  26. I learned a year goes by just like that, so I can’t waste a single day. Here’s to the best year yet!

Which lesson(s) do you relate to the most? What are some lessons you learned this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

A little over a week ago I turned 25, and something about this age has made me reflect on everything I have learned in my life up until now. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am still very young in the grand scheme of things, and I have a lot more to learn about this thing called life. But I also feel that I have learned a thing or two on my journey thus far, so I thought I would share 25 nuggets of wisdom today, in honor of the 25 years I’ve been on this earth.

  1. If you’re afraid to do something, I ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” This is what my mom always asks me when I’m feeling nervous. Something about acknowledging what I’m really afraid of helps me think logically about the situation, and often makes me realize there isn’t much to be afraid of in the first place.
  2. If you want to get to know someone better, they probably feel the same way about you. Ask that coworker to eat lunch with you. Reach out to that new friend you just met to see if they want to grab dinner. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
  3. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to be judging you. This is something I like to tell myself when I’m worrying too much about what others think of me. If you feel like you made a bad first impression on someone, I guarantee that person is thinking the same thing about himself/herself.
  4. Don’t put things off. If not now, when? I’m just as guilty as the next person of procrastinating, but I always feel so much more satisfied when I get things done. Speaking of which…
  5. Write to-do lists. I write lists of what I want to get done both at work and in my free time. I’m looking forward to crossing write blog post off my list after this!
  6. Try to say yes more. I’ve been testing this out a lot lately, and I’m already seeing positive results. In the last few weeks, I’ve said yes to going on a trip to Costa Rica in April, going to a trivia night for the first time, and attending an event with my coworkers where I ended up making some new friends! But with that being said…
  7. Know when to say no. As much as I am an advocate for saying yes, I have also been working on knowing my boundaries and when I need to say no. For me, that normally manifests when I find myself doing too much for other people and not paying enough attention to my own wants and needs.
  8. It’s important to get “me time” every week. I have a fairly busy schedule between work and my social life, and I’m the type of person that needs time to recharge. That’s where saying no comes in, as I sometimes have to turn down invitations from friends in favor of staying in and relaxing for a night.
  9. The most important relationship you have in life is the one with yourself. Be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter, and your own #1 fan. When you truly love yourself, others will love you even more.
  10. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. I’ve written about this quite a lot. From my time taking an improv class, to starting a YouTube channel, I’ve been pushing myself to do the things that scare me more and more as I’ve gotten older. And the kicker is, I never regret it!
  11. Don’t ignore your passions. Find ways to do more of what you love. A recent example for me is that I’ve started teaching myself to play piano again, after not playing for many years.
  12. Be selfish sometimes. My first instinct is to think about the other person and how they feel or what they want. This is a great quality to have, but I often need to remind myself I deserve to get what I want sometimes too.
  13. Don’t dwell on the past. In the end, this only brings you more pain, and holds you back from truly appreciating what you have.
  14. Always remember to be grateful. When I’m feeling down, I like to remind myself of all of the positive things in my life. No matter what you’re going through, there is always something to be grateful for.  
  15. It’s okay to fail. Nobody is perfect, everyone messes up from time to time. Plus, failures often teach us the best lessons and help us grow more than our successes.
  16. The logical and emotional parts of your brain don’t always agree. Sometimes your head knows something is a bad idea but your heart doesn’t want to listen. Or vice versa. The best thing you can do is just go with your gut instinct.
  17. Spend as much time outside as possible. Nothing makes me happier than going on a walk on a nice sunny day. Nature can truly feel healing at times!
  18. There’s no shame in going to therapy. You always hear people talk about exercising and taking care of your body by eating right, but we still don’t talk enough about taking care of our minds. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health!
  19. You’ll have bad days, weeks, months, and even bad years. But there is always something good amongst the bad. Focus on the good.
  20. Feelings aren’t facts. Just because you feel one way, doesn’t mean everyone feels that way. At the same time, just because someone feels differently than you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Nobody can control how they feel.
  21. Hindsight really is 20/20. It’s the unfortunate truth that situations and events in life become much clearer when they’ve become history. Don’t beat yourself up for not seeing something in the moment. Be thankful you can learn from your mistakes and move on.
  22. If someone annoys you, they probably remind you of yourself. This is a lesson I learned from my dad. We don’t like to see ourselves mirrored in others, which is why opposites can attract in friendships and romantic relationships. Whenever I express dislike for someone, my dad always asks me “what about that person reminds you of yourself?”
  23. Don’t be afraid to let people really know you. I’ve been trying to push myself to share more of my life with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who read this blog.
  24. Be fearless in the pursuit of your goals and dreams. I truly believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I try to set a lot of goals for myself, both in my personal life and my work life, so I always have something to be working towards.
  25. Never stop learning. I’m sure in the next 25 years of my life I will learn many more valuable lessons. And who knows, maybe I’ll still be sharing them on here!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on these life lessons, and share some of your own!

Also, I’d love to connect with you on social media! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

College Grad Ramblings: No More Classes

College Grad Ramblings: No More Classes

It’s been almost 14 months since I graduated college, and somehow it took me this long to realize something. I miss learning. I miss going to classes five days a week. I’m sure that seems weird to some who are still in college and are so happy to be on summer break right now, but it’s true. College is a very unique time when you have all of this knowledge handed to you.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t learn new things now. I am learning new things every day at my job, in my free time when I listen to podcasts, and even just chatting with friends and family. I believe that we never stop learning. But there is something so special about sitting in a classroom and learning from a professor that I really do miss.

How did I make this realization about missing classes, you might be wondering? Well, my sister and I attended a seminar/workshop thing last week that opened my eyes to a lot, including the fact that I miss learning. The event was called Quantum Leap for Young Adults, and it gave participants the chance to sit and listen to a presentation by Gary Keller. He covered everything from setting goals, to managing finances. I took notes the whole time and really felt like I was back in the classroom again. It was awesome.

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It made me think a lot, not just about the topics he covered (which I could probably write a whole blog about if you all would be interested), but about why exactly that type of learning feels so different than everyday learning. What I mean by that is, why do I miss sitting in a classroom and having a professor lecture to me, when I am getting so much “real world” experience now that I am out of college? I haven’t quite figured it out yet, honestly. There’s just something distinctly different about the two types of learning.

It’s made me think that I want to try to emulate going to class more in my life, whether that is by going to networking events, attending webinars, or something else. I haven’t decided how it will play out yet, but all I know is that I miss being taught, and I love learning.

Let me know in the comments if any of you have experienced similar feelings since graduating college, and if you’ve managed to keep the element of taking classes in your life somehow. I’d also love to hear from current college or even high school students; what do you love about your classes?

Life Lessons From Improv

Life Lessons From Improv

Hi everyone! As some of you may remember from my My Plan for a Happy 2016 blog, one of my resolutions was to take an improv comedy class. Well, that class ended last week, so I thought I would give you all an update and talk about what I learned! Even if you have no interest in improv, or have never done it yourself, you will still enjoy this blog because it is focusing more on the life lessons I took away and less on the details of the improv class and what we did.

The class was six weeks long, and met once a week. Each week’s class had an overarching theme or “big idea”, so I will talk through a couple of my favorite lessons from the class and how I think they can be applied to everyday life.

Be present

In improv, being present essentially entails paying attention to what is happening around you, and not zoning out or thinking about other things while you’re in the class. This can be surprisingly difficult, especially for someone like me who tends to overthink everything and try to plan out what I will say or do next.

Unfortunately or fortunately, the whole point of improv is that you can’t plan anything out, and you just have to go with the flow. This has been a challenge but has helped me grow over the past few weeks. Learning to just be in the moment and react to what happens around me is a great lesson that I have tried to carry over to both my work life and my social life. I often find myself zoning out while talking to my friends or getting stuck looking to the future too much instead of just focusing on the here and now, and I think improv is helping me overcome that and be more aware of the present. My question for you is: How can you be more present?

Be committed

One of the biggest challenges of improv is going “all in” so to speak, or not being afraid to make a fool out of yourself. There’s a certain level of commitment that you have to make both to yourself and to other in your class, that you will try your best and not hold back at all. It is not nearly as fun if you spend the whole time worrying about if you’re doing it right or if people will think you’re silly.

This is something that I struggle with every single day. At work, I sometimes feel hesitant to speak my mind or offer my own ideas because I’m worried about what everyone will think. Luckily I do think this improv class has helped me to realize that everything is better when you make the effort to go all out. Whether that is trying to offer up a few of your own ideas at a meeting, or not backing out of plans to hang out with friends. I am always striving to get to a point in my life where I can honestly say that I am fully committing to all of my choices and that I am going through life with confidence. My question for you is: How can you be more committed?

 

All in all I am very glad I joined the improv class. I got a few compliments after the class was over; people told me that they thought I had really grown and broken out of my shell throughout the six weeks, so that was great to hear! I have met some awesome people in the class, and I even decided to sign up for Level 2! So expect another improv-related blog in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried improv. I’d also love to hear your answers to my questions about how you will personally try to integrate these lessons into your life.

And one more thing: I got the exciting opportunity to be featured on a blog that I greatly admire, and I will be sharing the post with you all tomorrow morning, so keep a look-out for that! 🙂

What Study Abroad Taught Me

I have now been back in the U.S.A. for a week, and have thus theoretically had some time to reflect on what I learned while abroad. Instead of writing a super long, boring, intellectual article, I am just going to give you a list of 20 things that I learned while abroad, in no particular order.

1) Not speaking for fear of messing up is stupid and pointless. The only way to improve your foreign language skills is to try.

2) Even if you try and fail, like maybe you tell the pharmacist that you have been sick for two years instead of two days, and in that moment you feel as if the humiliation will never fade, it eventually will. And you might even get a free aloe vera body wash with your purchase because he feels sorry for you.

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3) You can’t be afraid to try new things, especially new food. You may discover you like foods you never thought you would. You also can’t be too worried about gaining weight. You probably will gain weight, but tapas are definitely worth those extra pounds.

4) Realizing that everyone else can speak English as well if not better than you can speak Spanish is both motivational and disheartening in your pursuit of perfecting Spanish. It is easy to just rely on their English skills, especially when people automatically start speaking English to you even when you try to speak Spanish to them.

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5) The name Shelly is impossible for Spanish speakers. The closest the baristas at Starbucks will get is “Chelli”. Your host mom will probably take a good month to get it right, and only after you have repeated it a million times, spelled it out a million times, and written it up on the white board in the kitchen for further inspection.

6) Sometimes it’s okay to just walk around the city by yourself. There is no better way to enjoy the scenery and learn to navigate a new place than by simply wandering.

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7) You are not going to get along with everyone in life, and that’s okay. Imagine how exhausting it would be if every single person you met became your best friend.

8) Sometimes the conflicts you have with above non-friends will lead to the sharpening of your argument skills, and will ultimately leave you feeling more confident in yourself and your relationships with the people that actually are your friends.

9) No matter how much you think you are bad at adjusting to new situations, everyone is in fact capable of adjusting. By the end of my four months it felt weird to be leaving my host home, whereas in the beginning it felt weird being there.

10) If you can’t learn to go with the flow and accept that things aren’t always going to go as planned, studying abroad is probably not for you. From your card refusing to let you withdraw money from an ATM, to being forced to take a ridiculously expensive cab ride from the airport, to all the stores being closed when you need to get your boarding passes printed, the universe will thoroughly enjoy throwing wrenches into your carefully thought-out plans. Don’t let it ruin your day.

11) Don’t have too many expectations for where you should go or what you should do while abroad. Some of your best memories may come from plans that were last minute or unexpected, like deciding to go on a trip to Morocco, a place I never considered traveling to before I arrived in Spain.

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12) Currency conversion matters. 50 euros is not equal to 50 dollars. Remember this when you go on shopping sprees.

13) People around the world will either love or hate the fact that you are American. It will be obvious which within a few seconds of talking to them.

14) Things that seem normal about our culture will seem hilarious, weird, or just plain stupid to people from another culture. For example, you will get very strange looks and comments from your Spanish host mom if you try to explain the concept of eggs for breakfast.

15) Switching between English and Spanish is extremely difficult. You will talk in English to your host mom without realizing it. More strange looks and comments will ensue.

16) Levels of PDA vary greatly around the world. Spanish couples seem to think it is appropriate to show their love for each other by kissing passionately in public places such as on a bridge, in a cafe, or on the metro. Americans will appear to be the only people who find this awkward.

17) You will be unable to escape the popular American songs that you kind of wanted a break from. Your host sister will probably blast them at top volume from her room.

18) Though America is a great country, it doesn’t have things like old cathedrals and castles in the middle of cities. You will definitely miss being able to visit historical places like this when you return home.

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19) There is no right or wrong way to do something or think about something. It is amazing how many different opinions, stories and ideas there are in the world. It’s easy to forget that the American culture is not the only culture.

20) Most importantly: I learned never to take anything for granted. My semester abroad might have been the first and last chance I get in life to travel and see the world. Hopefully I will be able to travel like that again, but if not, I will cherish the memories I made and the lessons I learned.

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain