As a child, mom would say, “Set a good example for your younger siblings.” But they sure weren’t following my footsteping example. They were too busy doing their own thing.
That’s why they were in trouble, and I was not.
As I moved into my early twenties, no one seemed to be looking at me or trying to imitate me.
Besides, I was shy, tentative, quiet, and never thought of myself as a leader. No one was choosing me to lead anything. Unless it was nominating me as a member for the: “How to Be Invisible in Social Settings Club.“
I quietly did what I did and didn’t think much about it.
Then one day when I was in my mid-twenties, my husband said, “Theresa, have you seen how you inspired Ann to go back to school and get her accounting degree?”
“What?” I said. Confused. She was someone I looked up to.
“She went back to school when she saw you were getting your graduate degree. You inspired her.”
Well, that was a new thought.
I thought we inspired others primarily through words. (Which I didn’t dispense many of back then.) And I thought we had to be of a more mature age (over 30) for others to look to us for guidance or inspiration.
Upon reflection, his words made sense. I realized that I looked to others for what to do, asked their opinion, tried to imitate their manners or dress, and sought their guidance. I just hadn’t ever realized that others might be doing the same with me.
Soon I realized that I was guiding my young daughter in my daily actions, whether I wanted to or not. Sure, my words carried weight, but my actions also spoke volumes. She was watching me to see what I was doing, how I would react, what my next step would be.
This was both a scary thought and a fuzzy warm thought. Depending on the day and moment.
Whether we like it or not, people do watch us. Judge us. Make decisions about us. Some we may unknowingly inspire; others we may unknowingly discourage.
Our job is not to gain likes or please everyone. Nor should we try and not offend anyone. Our job is to be our authentic self who is loving others and our creator.
Realizing that others may be watching you, and that you may be unknowingly guiding and inspiring them can feel good. And then you think of the responsibility, and you realize the weight of your decisions.
Here’s some things to remember:
1. Don’t get paranoid. All of us have people watching us. Sometimes they see us only once. Sometimes they wander in and out of our daily life, seeing all its glory and mundane.
2. Focus on doing what’s right. Taking the next step. Doing the next right thing. Sticking to your own lane.
3. Look for your own guides who inspire you. Incorporate what is helpful for you and your situation.
4. Expect to be misread and misjudged. We do this to people, and they will do it to us.
5. Give them and you plenty of grace and empathy. Most things in life we are doing for the first time. And even if we are not, the circumstances and situation
may have changed.
6. Don’t take yourself to seriously. A good laugh releases a lot of stress and helps us not be to big-headed.
7. Arm yourself with truth, courage, and humbleness. They will serve you well.
8. Do away with comparison. It will cause you to question yourself and create walls with those you compare.
9. Keep God in your story and decisions. He has the power to work everything to our good and the good of others.
Everywhere we go we leave an impact. An imprint.
In some big or small way.
We will never know the extent of our impact, until we get to heaven.
When someone comes up to us and tells us that because of us they decided to go back to school. Started writing. Stayed in their marriage. Took dance classes. Started combining pink and red in their outfits. Or made chicken and dumplings and found a new family favorite.
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My name is Theresa Boedeker. I like to tell stories, write, and laugh, but not necessarily in that order. I became a storyteller because I enjoy manipulating an audience’s funny bone. I also end up tickling myself into knots at the same time.