|by Annie Welch Photography|
Needless to say, although pregnancy was a joy - balancing my changing body and the stress of work became a priority.
More significantly, I found myself becoming overwhelmed by the constant blog posts, tweets, instagrams, facebook statuses, and pins on pinterest - and felt a strong need in my heart to disconnect from the Internet world. Specifically, the School Counseling Internet world.
Before I go on, I have to first say I am so excited to see the growth among School Counselors engaging with one another through these mediums. It is absolutely incredible and I truly believe it is fueling tired and overworked School Counselors to advocate and edify themselves. Not only that, this very fuel is creating a fire that is changing the very face of School Counseling itself. We are becoming more relevant and more present than ever. No longer are we being minimized as unimportant or ineffective. There is proof in the pudding!
But. I think it is time to talk about the aspects of this world that I know I fell victim to, and now, realizing my vulnerability, must set boundaries around. I can think of three that I see as problematic and that I, as I come back into the fold, want to be better at - not only within this blog, but within my striving for my professional development.
1) Quantity over Quality
The minute a board is created on Pinterest, the immediate desire is to begin filling that board with a variety of items that inspire and invoke action. When I look at these boards, its shocking to me that somehow they end up with 400 pins related to that topic. I have to ask myself, "How many of these pins are truly meaningful?" "How many had follow through to the next link?"
I have come to believe that the sheer amount of ideas out there on the interweb has not increased our capability to create, but becomes a prison in which we are so overwhelmed that we do not create.
Somehow, through our desire to organize our lesson plans, our next small group craft, and our favorite School Counseling Office - we have lost sight of home.
It may just be me. But, in the midst of trying to find the next best thing, I forget to improve what I already have.
Thus, a personal goal when sifting through the wonderful ideas of so many amazing School Counselors is focusing on what I really need for that moment -not to fill up my board. Kind of like when I was a kid, shopping with my mother... she would always ask, "Are you really going to wear this?" and "Do you need it?"
These are questions we can ask ourselves when "shopping" for our program and for our School Counselor selves. Is this something that my program can "wear"? and "Will I actually "wear" it?
After this school year, I deleted all my School Counseling Pinterest Boards. I wanted to start over. To be intentional. To focus on the quality of my boards. This isn't just about Pinterest. Or Twitter. Or Facebook.
When I streamline my online life, it immediately impacts the quality of my real life. And I definitely want an intentional and quality career.
2) Product versus Presence
I remember being with a small group one day and we had just done something really awesome. I was so proud of the effort that my kids had put out and that something I had created had worked so well. In that moment, my first thought was, "I need to take a picture of this and blog it!"
I remember stepping back after that, realizing that the life I was living was becoming more about the "sharing" than the "engaging". And to be honest, it was becoming more about the product than the experience.
The people around me need an engaged individual. Someone who is spending less time looking at the screen in front of them and more time surveying the world around them. Even still, it was less about being a blogger, and more about how obsessed I was with being in the thick of things with School Counseling.
School Counseling online became a distraction to School Counseling offline. And let's be honest, my actual life offline.
Whether or not we realize it, the more used to interacting with others online we become, the more our ability to be fully engaged offline is impacted. Its almost like we are so used to staring at a screen while things are going on around us that this becomes the way we interact all the time.
Either way, I want to be more present in my life. I want to suck the marrow out of it. Not tweet all about it and miss the experience.
There isn't much more that I can say on this topic that probably hasn't been said. All I know is that comparison is a constant threat on the Internet. There is a fine line, I believe, between sharing material, to comparing ourselves to the person who shared.
Rather than attempting to recreate the wheel, here is my story. I found myself looking at a variety of blogs, or pictures, or pins, or whatever and feeling that what I was doing wasn't enough. That I wasn't enough. That my School Counseling could be better if I created that one bulletin board, or started that book club, or whatever else. And comparison really does steal our joy. Because I lost it.
I lost the joy of participating in things that I could have gotten a lot out of because I was so busy worried about everyone else instead of myself.
I lost confidence that fueled my creativity. And I lost my voice.
In the end, all these things are real. And so I end this by saying to you all - whatever you are doing in your offices- How YOU are as a School Counselor, what your office looks like right now, what things you are focused on... they are enough if you believe them to be. But, if you find yourselves wanting more, wanting to engage online, wanting to be fueled by others creativity- DO IT.
But do it, selectively, intentionally, and for all the right reasons.
Lastly, don't allow so many voices and ideas to drown out the most important one - yours. Because really, when we have the Internet to turn to, we begin to lose the trust that we have in ourselves as educators and counselors.
Collaboration is definitely key to our success as School Counselors. But, so is intuition.
Counseling is not a search engine. It's a process. Let's not lose sight of that.