In my first day of kindergarten I nervously walked to school about five blocks. Once class started, the teacher told us she was a first-time teacher as she tried to connect with us. Later she invited us to look around the classroom and find something we wanted to do.
The other children looked quickly, scrambling for puzzles, coloring books, toys and picture books. I was a bit more deliberate, as none of those things drew me in. Then my attention was drawn to the stool the teacher had sat on. That interested me. I sat on her stool and started to observe the class.
I focused my attention on one boy. He was putting a puzzle together. He sniffled, and I felt the sniffle in my nose. He moved the pieces and I considered how they could fit together. The teacher was busy helping students who were struggling. After a few minutes she noticed me. I noticed her noticing me. I shrunk, I felt her anger, and she chided me for not finding something to do. I struggled to get the words out to tell her I was doing something and I tried to explain it, but I didn’t know the word observe back then.
She grabbed me by my left arm and pulled me off the stool, stood me in a center point of the room and told me to find something to do. It was at that point that I realized that she lied to us. It wasn’t something I wanted to do that she wanted me to find, but to find something she thought a young person would want to do. I looked around the room wanting to get away from her. I found a space around a bookcase out of her direct view. I went there, found a coloring book and stabbed some crayons on it. She watched me a minute or two, then turned her attention to the rest of the classroom.
I was furious. I didn’t want to color in the coloring book. I just marked the page with angry lines. Then I started to consider what I really wanted in that moment and how to get it. At that moment I wanted to never return to that classroom. I made that decision in that moment, and then I considered how that could happen. I imagined that my Mom would get a job offer out of the blue, a surprise to her. One with a bigger paycheck so she’d accept it. I dwelled on that while spurred by my anger from the situation I was in.
About 30 minutes later, my Mom rushed into the classroom breathlessly excited, a big smile on her face. She spoke fast, looking for me. She’d just got a job offer, in another city with a bigger paycheck, but we had to go now. My wish was granted. As my Mom and I left, I met eyes with the teacher briefly. She looked sad to see me go. I smiled. I won, because she couldn’t force me to conform to her view of a kindergartener any more.
To me, that’s the power available when we’re authentically ourselves.
Navigating life has been a challenge. There are so many people like that new kindergarten teacher. Some are family, and others are bosses. As we grow up, we’re taught to not trust ourselves, to look to an outside authority for guidance. And the pressure to conform to an inauthentic place within yourself is powerfully strong, especially when it comes to money.
Learning to navigate from my authentic self has meant looking inwardly and finding guidance from that place within where sensory information pops into my head: images, voices, smells. And my gut. I’ve noticed when someone tells me something that’s not true, I feel the sensation of nausea in my belly. When someone tells me something that’s true for me, I get a light and beaming happy feeling in my belly.
I navigate my life from my authentic self by focusing my attention inward with curiosity and my desire for guidance in a situation.