I was a quiet, shy kid.
People didn’t really “see” me, not the real me.
I could be funny and silly with my friends but put me in a group and I would clam right up. I let others be funny and entertaining. I didn’t need the spotlight but I did like the feeling of making my friends laugh, to be noticed by people that really cared about me.
Like many of us, I went through a really awkward phase as a teenager. Chubby and fair-skinned with bad skin, all I wanted to do was recede into the background. I frequently wore turtlenecks so I could pull up the neck part to hide part of my face.
Enter Ms. Stannard, my Art Teacher. She was a wonderfully quirky, down to earth and genuine person. I had the very good fortune of having her for my art classes for both middle and high school. She’d assign us creative challenges which I loved and when she stopped by my worktable, I could feel her positive energy even before she spoke.
“Oh my goodness Christian… that’s amazing, I’ve love what you’ve done here!”, she would say.
Was she being serious?
At first I thought she was just trying to be nice. What I created didn't look like much to me. But, I was lucky to have her in both middle and high school so over time, I learned that she was being sincere. Junior year, she even selected a few of my collages to be shown at The University of Hartford.
And something else.
She would go out of her way to pull me aside to tell me how pretty I was.
She would say it when she saw me at school or if she ran into me in town.
She saw what I couldn't see, both inside and out.
As a young girl who often felt less-than she validated that I had value, that I had real talent and helped shape my identity as a creative person.
I'll always remember Ms. Stannard. I am forever grateful for her encouragement and vision for me. We all need people like that in our lives.
What I'm up to:
All my best to you,
Christian Marie Herron, is Story Mentor and Creative Consultant for entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives.