That’s what I heard as I walked through my second-grade students who were working on an activity.
To his credit, he spelled it (correctly, I might add) and didn’t say it.
I pulled him aside and asked him if he said what I thought he said. He nodded and looked at me like he wasn’t sure what the problem was.
I told him he was done for the day and that he should line up at the door until his teacher came by. He started to cry.
I asked him what was wrong and he said that his Mama, step-daddy, and sister use that word all the time at home and he was just trying to find a way to tell other students that.
I told him that it’s not language that we use in school or out in public. That he could do and say what he wanted at home but that it’s not something he should do or say at church, school or out in the community.
I realized later, that I was teaching him, at eight years old, to code-switch.
We all do it. You act a particular way depending on where you are or who you are with. When you are at home, the gym, church, work, with your family and with different sets of friends you do different things or speak different ways.
It’s not bad. It just is.
But it can be exhausting.
It got me to thinking about how amazing it would be if we could just settle on being our authentic selves wherever we are. If we could take the best attributes of all of those personalities and combine them into someone who we could roll out at a library or a party. The grocery store or with friends. It wouldn’t matter who we are with or what we are doing, We would just be naturally, beautifully, our authentic selves.
The first thing you need to do is figure out who that is. Where are you the happiest? With whom do you feel most like yourself? What kind of activities and people really rock your world and make you feel good?
Next, try it out. Don’t adjust who you are for who you are with. See how you, the real you, is received.
It goes without saying that if you, the real you is not received well, maybe the receiver is not someone you need to spend oodles of time with.
My little one in second grade is still trying to figure out who he is. He receives messages daily from all kinds of people and places that will help him develop over time.
Code-switching for him is a matter of survival. I have no doubt that as he grows and is able to take in what is going on around him, he will be able to figure it out.
For us, health and happiness depend on us being able to be who we really, truly are. As one of my favorite authors Brene Brown says, it’s a daily practice. It’s deliberate. And it’s necessary.So today, you be you. Wonderful, beautiful, incredible, amazing you. It’s honestly all you need to be. #HappyFix #SelfCare