When I graduated college, a professor advised me to make definite goals for my teaching career before ever setting foot in a classroom. She said the stress of every day would make it hard to determine success, and that I would need to have a clear definition to look back to over the highs and lows.
So I set four goals for my teaching:
1. That my students would feel safe
2. That my students would feel loved
3. That my students would learn something about being human
4. That they would experience love for learning
I can’t tell you how helpful it was to have those goals defined before hardships came. In the sea of standardized tests, the pits of failed lesson plans, and the mountain of never-ending grading, I could stop and ask myself, “But do they feel loved?” and remember what was truly important.
This year has been a wild ride. In August we celebrated Frecklefaced Adventures hitting 3,000 followers. I couldn’t have ever fathomed a number that high. Yet within just a few months we now stand on the precipice of 5,000. How did that happen? By all accounts this should feel like a success, but feelings of self-doubt, fear of disappointing others, and that ever-constant imposter syndrome are seeping in instead.
When I started this account, I really didn’t know of any others like it. I soon found two or three other mom-led IG accounts chronicling the city, but we each offered a unique spin so it felt like I was adding value to the group. Now almost two years later, there are over a dozen accounts, some even look just like mine with title texts and bulleted lists. Is what I am doing still valuable? Is it time to exit stage left?
I think the problem is that I never defined my goals for this account. I didn’t expect it to take off, so it hadn’t occurred to me that I would need a list to refer to. But without a clear definition of success, it is easy to feel failure at every turn.
I’ve thought a lot about this over the past week. What is the work of Frecklefaced Adventures? What makes it a success? How do I determine its worth?
The whole reason I started this account was because I felt overwhelmed by going on outings with my then two year old. It was scary, confusing, and honestly a little lonely tackling adventures on my own. I hoped that by making a record of where we went, I could be better prepared for re-visits and that my notes could help other parents, too. I wanted it to be real and raw. No curated photos or glossy reviews. If a place gave me the heebee jeebees, I was going to write that. If I found band-aids in the ball pit, I was going to be honest about it. If my child straightbacked the whole time, I was going to chronicle the drama and how we survived because odds are someone else would experience a meltdown along the way, too. And through that rawness, I hoped to build a stronger community for parents.
Remembering where it all started helped me set my goals for Frecklefaced Adventures:
- It builds community and helps parents feel less alone
- It makes it easier for parents to explore the city with their kids
- It supports local businesses and charities
- It shares a real, honest view of parenting and adventuring
As 2021 closes, and we begin a brand new year, I am making my intentions clear. Whatever builds community and helps you feel less alone, whatever makes it easier for you to explore the city with your kids, whatever supports local businesses and charities, and whatever is the real, honest truth of our experiences…that is what I am bringing in 2022.