I remember the first time I was put into a position of “power”. I use quotes there because, well. It was at summer camp when I was about 15 years old. I mean…how much power could I really have here?? But I digress. I was nominated for Kiowa Tribe Princess, which meant I would represent the tribe the next year. Cultural appropriation aside, I was STOKED to be nominated. Humbled. Honored. I never knew how badly I wanted to be the 2nd term Kiowa Princess of 1991 until I was nominated.
And then I was put in charge of a group of younger campers to do something really important like paint banners.
And. Turns out I was a total jerk. Like Jerk Jerk with a capital J-E-R-K. I had expectations of these young ones but didn’t have the words to clearly explain what I wanted. I didn’t take anyone’s advice, didn’t value anyone else’s opinion, just had my way of how I wanted it done, and heard myself barking these orders without a hint of kindness, love, togetherness, or camaraderie. Even my 15-year old self was a bit awe struck by the power hungry would-be princess.
Perhaps this is needless to say, but my fleeting dream of being the one-term Kiowa princess was not realized.
I’ve had a few opportunities to harness my “power” and use it in a more gentle and encouraging way since that fateful summer painting imperfect banners. I mean, hold your applause, but I managed one person back when I worked in an office. One person y’all! And while our Dynamic Duo was in fact truly dynamic, it was probably more impressive that I didn’t hold onto that summer camp management style.
And now I have daily, no… moment by moment opportunities to check that power, when interacting with my kiddos on the regular. In the moments when they are awesome, in those moments when they are not awesome, or I am not awesome, or life is just not awesome. I check in with my Perceived Power (hereto referred to as PP) with regards to their learning and education, with their food choices, what they wear, when they wake and go to bed. I trust in their abilities in a way that I didn’t trust those v young 14-year old campers who I needed to boss around. (They are 6 and 3.)
And I also have learned that I can choose in the moment how I want to react. I can see the princess-nominee wielding her PP and shut that shit down. Take a breath, redirect, move forward in a different way. In authenticity, letting my tender, vulnerable soul shine. Even if it means that I say I have no idea how to paint this “banner”. Can we make a plan and paint together? I don’t have to know how to do all the things, but I do want to embrace all the kindness and love, and even when it’s scary, choose to put forth my most authentic self. Baby steps.