Teaching Opinion

What I Wish I Knew ...

By Starr Sackstein — February 12, 2019 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Gosh, there are just so many things that come to mind.

Regardless of the specific area of my life, hindsight has provided tremendous wisdom, humility, and gratitude for the growth and fortune my life has so far amounted to.

It’s hard to imagine as a kid what your adult life will look like and harder still to grow from inherent hardships that befall us all.

Luckily, I’ve been fortunate to have many mirrors held before me in my life, and although there were times I ran away scared, more often than not, I’ve looked bravely into my own foibles, shortcomings, and challenges and have made the decision to acknowledge and grow.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Duane on her podcast “What I Wish I Knew” and as I thought about all of the things I wish I knew, even still, I decided I wanted to talk about my perfectionism and always trying to be the best at everything. What I most wish I knew was that all of that hard work would come with a cost.

Working your ass off to be the best, but never being satisfied only leads to disappointment and self-judgment. It is never enough, and that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to shame and unhappiness. Regardless of how good I’ve been at the many ventures in my life, what I learned most is that being present and happy with what I have is what matters most.

As an educator, good enough was never good enough. Sure, I had my days, but I kept pushing relentlessly to be better and I was, but I’m not sure I cherished enough of the struggle and the students and my own learning. Often, I squandered my successes, and they turned into missed opportunities to really reflect and grow as well as celebrate, feel pride, and be present for what all of the hard work yielded.

I struggle with this mightily as a parent as well. Trying to balance the career I love with the time and focus I give to my son has been challenging. Always, in the back of my head, I’ve realized that there will come a time when he grows up and just isn’t interested in spending time with me anymore, and I’m worried that I will miss the most precious time we have, and yet it is still a struggle.

The older I get, the more I realize that the negative self-talk, the constant striving for more is a ridiculous waste of time. Since we only get one life, it is important to multitask less and live more. Fortunately, my husband teaches mindfulness and tries to help me stay present and focused on the things that matter.

Although it often feels like I’m on an all-out crusade to change the world (at least in my head), taking the opportunity to experience life with the folks I love, enjoy the spoils of my hard work, and try to relax when I can have become priorities. If I had my 41-year-old wisdom a decade or two ago, I would have told myself to slow down ... cue Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy”. Try to enjoy it all more.

What I wish I knew is vast, but I’m still young enough to make it all count now. So hopefully, when I’m asked again in the future, I will have less to choose from. Life, after all, is all about adjustment and readjustment. Doing, reflecting, and redoing. Since we are all works in progress, it is never too late to make changes.

Knowing myself as well as I do, I’m certain I will continue to make some mistakes but will learn to self-correct faster and lose less time until hopefully, my natural reaction is the preferred one. I’m just not there yet, and that is OK.

What is one thing you wish you knew and why? Please share

*Photo is made by pablo.com

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.