1 |The Desire to Read and The Matthew EffectJun 29, 2021
Once when I was a young teen I cut my hair super short and I immediately regretted it. I felt naked. Like a baby bird. I ached so hard for my long hair. To get me through my teenage angst, I wrote myself a letter in my journal titled "Dear Future 2000 Me" that eventually became the backbone of my instruction as a high school English teacher for decades. The year 2000 seemed so far away in the early 80s. 2000!
It’s 2021 and I still insist my students answer simple questions in their fresh journals. Freely writing a letter to your future self isn’t as easy as it sounds. With almost thirty years of “Dear Future Me” letters in my possession, I’ve carved out self-motivation and inspiration for thousands of students one journal entry at a time.
Here’s an excerpt from my Dear Future 2000 Me letter:
Aim to grow so hard on the inside until your insides match the outsides. By the time your hair grows back, you’ll be a whole new Dawn.
Dawn of 1984
Fast forward to whenever my heart's been broken, I planted sunflower SEEDS! And then I waited. While I waited I worked, carved, and crafted out the latest and greatest version of myself that I could muster. What I learned is that seeds and hair grow faster when you nurture them. I also learned the landscape crew can yank your baby sunflower saplings like they are weeds both breaking your heart and making you laugh because starting all over is so a part of life!
The truth is, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that we will all face unfathomable pain one day. None of us leaves unscathed.
I often unwillingly equate my struggles in life with the quality and length of my damn hair.
Much more recently, I chopped my hair the shortest it has ever been including some carved out one-inch neckline hairs. I knew I wouldn't like it. But I had lost so much and life felt very hard at the time. So I decided to chop, chop, chop. I decided to listen to my teenage self again and grow so hard on the inside until my insides match the outsides.
It worked! I am a brand new me. I know exactly who and what I aim to be.
My hair is long and thick, my spine is strong, and my heart is open. It wasn’t easy work, but it was worthwhile work. So I ask you…
What and who do you want to be?
What would it take for you to be willing to have me along on your journey?
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Your biggest cheerleader,
About the Podcast:
Founder of Freely Reading and college of education professor Dawn Goldstein asks essential questions: why does literacy matter, how do we wake up learners to their full potential, and how do we move forward post-pandemic without returning our factory style of education.
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