Every month, I like to put together a regular Lust List of the beauties around the web I’ve seen and swooned over. I’m not crazy enough to imagine they will all make their way into my closet. I just like to dream… and I like to share them, because if they can’t be in my closet, at least they might be scooped up by one of my readers! But, every so often, when I’ve seen a certain one of my Lust List dresses has sold (and isn’t on her way to me) I must admit I feel a pang of sadness.
I put this amazing butterfly print dress on my Lust List last January. I loved the muted colors, the full skirt, the butterflies dancing across the blue flowers. And as I often do, when I happened to check back on her, I saw that she had sold and felt that familiar pang. I lamented my budget and the fact that I can’t have all the dresses. But, I hoped that she had somehow still found her way to a good home.
A few months later, when my birthday rolled around, the Mr. had a little twinkle in his eye as he gave me my birthday presents to unwrap. And there, tucked in the careful arms of tissue paper and ribbon, was that butterfly dress I thought was lost to the universe. So for many reasons, this dress can always bring a smile to my face – because she’s a piece of history. Because she comes from one of the most amazing vintage sellers I know, Word from the Bird. And because sometimes the Mr. has a knack for digging through my wishlist and finding the one or two pieces that really get me twitterpated…
Imust admit, I needed a dress to make me smile today. See, there’s this phenomenon called the Butterfly Effect – where even the tiniest of things that you do can have large effects. Where the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. And this phenomenon manifests itself in every thing we do. Perhaps as simple as buying someone a present, smiling at a stranger on a subway, or simply sending well wishes out into the universe can change the course of someone’s day, week, year. But there can also be negative effects. Unnecessary judgements, or criticisms. Sending out negativity in such a way that it can magnify, causing the person on the receiving end to internalize it, amplify it, and send even more negativity on its way.
On Monday I officially uploaded final grades and celebrated with vintage and a well-earned cocktail (as you do). I breathed a sigh of relief that I had survived and patted myself on the back for a job well done. And then on Tuesday, while I was relishing in the release from the shackles of stress, our course feedback came through. Students are asked to complete surveys and basically provide professors with an assessment of their overall effectiveness. And every colleague in my department warned me of them. Of how harsh students can be; how it is an outlet for their anger, and how many have stopped reading them over the years simply to avoid having a nervous breakdown.
But heres the thing: As much as I believed them, I still wanted to hear what the students thought. I wanted to know areas where I could improve and wanted to gain insight from the student’s perspective. And then came the onslaught….
If I’m being honest – some were lovely. Some deemed it their favorite class. Some gave constructive feedback I hope to incorporate into future classes. Some reminded me of why I teach and why I push myself so hard. As as much as I wish I could focus on the majority of the comments, unfortunately some were also needlessly harsh, written to hurt (and we always take those to heart and forget the good ones immediately, don’t we?). And while I recognize in many cases this says a lot more about them as a student than me as a teacher, where their grade reflects effort that they put into my class and not my ability to educate, there’s very little that can dampen that initial blow. I suppose it’s human nature to want to please everyone. Or be the best at everything. But it simply isn’t possible.
Here’s the thing about the Butterfly Effect: Little things we do and say can have big consequences. And sometimes big things we do and say can seem to have no effect at all. And words can indeed hurt and do long lasting damage. But, I also believe we have a bit of control over what we internalize. What we let level us. So, I had my afternoon of self doubt. I cried the tears on Mr. Dressed’s shoulder and had a much needed venting session with a good friend. And then I took all of that energy and set up my sewing room, intent on creating a space where positivity flourishes. And today I bounced into the lab, ready to go. Ready to always be better, be open to improvement; but never willing to be both the cause and consequence of someone’s ill-aimed anger. Cause one thing you can’t teach someone is how to take responsibility for their own efforts: that’s something they’ll have to learn themselves.
So I guess the moral of the story is: be cautious about what you throw out into the universe today. Give yourself a gut check whether you’re sending out negativity simply because it speaks to your own anger and insecurities. But, also know that you have a choice whether to own someone else’s opinion of you. You have a choice to shake it off and refuse to pass the negativity on. Refuse to amplify it, and instead turn it into something positive.
If any of you out there are educators – know that I am your biggest fan. I know how hard you work. I know how often you are under appreciated – especially by the students who will not realize your impact until years later.
So, I pulled this dress from my wardrobe today for all of you Teachers. The dress that can always make me smile. Cause I’ve shaken Tuesday off, and choose to throw a smile out to each and every one of you. For those who fight the good fight and send so much good out there, every day. Who imprint their positivity on the young minds that they’re shaping. Who are building up the next generation of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs.
And with each one, you may just be changing the world.
Dress: Word from the Bird (similar modern or vintage here, here & here)
Necklace: Gift (similar)
Belt: gift, Alannah Hill (similar)
Bag: Bluebird Vintage (similar here & here)
Shoes: Just Cavalli, thrifted from Bindaring Clothing Sale (similar here & here)
Lip Color: Stila Color Balm lipstick, ‘Valentina’