The days are brighter,
Her mind calmer,
Still, she can’t help but wonder
And dream of what may be,
What good may come
Of her silent screaming
Once it falls on naked ears
©Ashley Castle Barnes
When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I went to her first conference with the teacher, excited to hear how things were going.
My excitement was quickly dashed, however, when she started to give me examples of how my daughter couldn’t stand in line without wiggling or talking or complete assignments without getting off track.
I listened to her and so many of the examples she presented sounded a lot like a child that was bored. And so I asked about that.
Her answer was that my daughter would be given more challenging academic work when she learned to stand in line quietly.
I didn’t know then that later in her life, my daughter would be diagnosed with both ADHD and autism. But I did know that she wasn’t going to succeed on this path.
How often do we see this with adults as well?
Where someone is evaluated more by their ability to conform to a generic standard rather than by their own unique strengths?
Where it’s automatically assumed that they have a personal shortcoming, weakness, or character flaw rather than considering the impact of their environment?
And where they end up prevented from further opportunities because they can’t adequately conform to an arbitrary norm or acclimate to rigid surroundings?
I know I’ve experienced this. So many spaces where I never really did fit in. And the feedback I received reflected that.
But the ones where I felt like I did fit in, where I felt safe and valued – I thrived in those environments. And the feedback I received was very different.
This shapes us as people. It makes us wonder if something is wrong with us. If we should speak up, move on, or just stay quiet and fit in.
Over and over again.
But the world is looking different these days. More voices are being raised.
Professionalism, growth, leadership, authenticity, empathy, and more – it’s all breaking open to reveal and demand better ways of treating humans.
At work, at school, and every aspect of life.
How are you looking beyond the status quo for yourself and others today?