Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

by Stacey Ebert /
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May 06, 2024 / 0 comments

It’s that time of year again. In the northern hemisphere, we’re in the sprung part of spring and students across the board can see the end in sight. University students are on their home stretch to finals, educators who’ve taught forever are preparing their retirement parties, and the ‘what will I do after graduation’ decision is upon us. 

Campers are yearning for the first day of camp that’s almost close enough to taste, we’ve cleaned out our closets, hit the stores for the gardening and barbecue necessities, and humans everywhere are figuring out where to spend their next burst of energy. Squarely out of that long winter’s nap, we’re ready to level up, step up to the plate, and own the field. 

Whether you’re in that space where things are ending, the one where it feels that everything is falling apart, or that sense that something new is brewing, the energy is palpable. We’re in the ‘feeling all the feelings’ phase of the year. We ride the waves of titillating excitement and intense nerves as humans post those insta reels of university and grad school decisions. The highs, the lows, the screams of joy, and the tears of sorrow—there’s power in those moments and the even greater transformative stories that come from how we respond to those moments. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

Regardless of where you are in your story, the fight is real. It doesn’t always feel like it, but the battle is always you vs yourself. Are you ready to step into the ring?

The noise of the world is loud. Today, it comes at us from all angles, from a zillion voices, and at a frenetic endless pace. There’s world news that makes us cry, scream, protest, counter-protest, write, create, vote, share, and take action. There are local events and social action that tug at heartstrings, lift voices, and change lives. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

Through all of it, there are humans, stories, families, lives, and legacies that change, grow, persevere, overcome, transform, and move mountains. We can be pulled in all sorts of directions, yet through it all, it’s about what we do, how we act, how we human, and what we do when no one is watching and when everyone is. 

It’s that time of year again. The one when calendars get filled, decisions are made, and plans are in motion. Sometimes it feels like it can spin on its own, sometimes it feels like we’re swept up in the tornado of it all, and sometimes the most significant thing we can do is plant our feet firmly on the ground, close our eyes, and take a breath. 

Take a minute. Refocus. Find you again. Remember who you are. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

For the past four years, we’ve watched the entire world pivot. There were stops and starts, learning and relearning, frustration, discovery, rebirth, regrowth, and continued adaptation. Some came in the form of shifting on the fly and learning the ropes as we go, and some leaned on years of experience pulled from different disciplines and new perspectives. 

Profoundly, the world felt those knockout punches, looked to our coaches, and said, “what now?” And then….we each took whatever amount of minutes we needed; some are still taking stock, and others said, “I’m ready to take action.” 

There is no one right answer, no singular direct path, and no other life with the exact same twists, turns, stops, and starts as another person. Your journey, your travel, your choice of destinations, rest stops, u-turns, or interactions along the way—they’re yours. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

Sometimes you’ll need a bit longer rest, sometimes you’ll wander aimlessly, and at others your destination will be crystal clear. It can change; we can pivot, we can take hibernation, we can reinvent, we can rebuild, we can try again, shift again, rest again, and try again.

The main ingredient stays the same: YOU. 

So regardless of time of life, number of rejections, disappointments, degrees, wins, businesses, pivots, adaptations, obstacles, opinions, rests, and all the in between, don’t count yourself out. Breathe, take stock, count those blessings, use what you know, let the doubt hang out with that fierce courage, get back up, pull those shoulders back, find your squad, listen to or be your own coach, believe you can, and start again. 

It’s never about them; it’s always about you. You versus you. Today, tomorrow, and always. 

We’re on your team. We’ve got your back. Ready or not, here you come. You got this! Breathe. 3, 2, 1…..Leap!

4 Thoughtful tips to elevate your own game

“On the days you only have 40%, and you give 40%, you gave 100%.” - Jim Kwik

Get back up

“You don’t lose if you get knocked down. You lose if you stay down.” - Muhammad Ali

School is hard. Sometimes, it’s really hard. Sometimes, life is even harder. All of our stories are different. Where we start, what forces us to stop, how we get going again, when we take rests, who encourages us, how we build, how we learn, and what we do when no one is watching…it all makes a difference in who we become. 

From the outside, or the social media posts, it looks like everyone is winning all the time. But just like the dichotomy between those insta posts and the ‘in real life’ ones, most of what we see is smoke and mirrors. People share what they choose to. A life curated to the onlookers. Yet behind all of that is the messy stuff of life: the real stuff. 

Caitlin Clark is the talk of the town today. A force of nature on the court and a humble human off of it. She won just about everything there was to win, yet in her final college championship game, it was the other team that took home the trophy. In an instant, the conversation shifted, but trophy or no trophy, she was still the same Caitlin. No event, trophy, contract, or title can take away what she’s done, who she is, and what she will continue to do. Talk about a pivot: days later, she was first pick of the exciting draft, has taken her first shots in the WNBA, and is still the pivotal reason for the eponymous ‘Clark effect,’ and much of the reason for today’s sellout tickets, screen time, and joy on faces new to the world of women’s basketball. She’s not even close to done; she’s only just begun.

Not everyone will know their next step after graduation. That’s more than okay, it’s normal! Some will pivot, some won’t get their first or second choice, some will start at one thing and change direction, and some will take time off before a leap. It’s all fair game. 

Keep taking your shots! Under the basket or a 3-pointer, take them. And when you think you can’t, try again!

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

Go the distance

“Winning is being better than you were yesterday…every day.” - Frank Dick

Traditional education begins around the age of 5 and tends to finish with senior year of high school. Step by step, grade by grade, year by year, we leap, deal with the newness, familiality, and rigor, and go from strength to strength. Sometimes we get derailed, need a break, or even stop. Sometimes our journey shifts—yet, regardless of how we get there, going the distance is possible. 

Consider a young human starting their first day in kindergarten. That’s all they see. Graduation from year twelve is not even in their milieu. Their whole story is in front of them. A new chapter. Now consider the senior, walking the stage at graduation. That’s all they see. Retirement isn’t in their dictionary. A new chapter. Now consider the retiree. Receiving that golden ticket for a thirty-year career. Their next leap is yet to be formed. A new chapter.

Kevin Costner is known for many roles. My favorite is Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. Plowing through his profitable corn field to build a baseball field…it seems utterly crazy to every single human, until it doesn’t. Noise, bills, lawyer, opinions, scoffs, confusion—he gets all of it. With family support, he continues on a constantly curvy and curious path, and then it all makes sense. The voice tells him to “go the distance.” While we don’t all have the companionship of James Earl Jones, or Shoeless Joe Jackson, we all have our comparable field, our dreams that don’t have to make sense to anyone else, and the ability to go the distance. If a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in the heart of Iowa is possible, all of your dreams are too. 

Keep going. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

Their opinion is just that: theirs

“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.” - Arthur Ashe

Meryl Streep is renowned for speaking her mind. This phenomenal actor recently shared an early experience of rejection from an audition for King Kong. The language in this rejection literally said she was “too ‘ugly’ for the part.” She goes on to share, “This was a pivotal moment for me. This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the bootstraps and believe in myself. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry you think I’m too ugly for your film but you’re just one opinion in a sea of thousands and I’m off to find a kinder tide.” Today I have 18 Academy Awards.”

People have opinions. Some even think they’re entitled to share theirs with you and some of those individuals are sure that theirs is right and yours, horribly wrong. All are just that: opinions—and unless you let them, they do not have to be yours, do not have to dictate your direction, and do not need to have any space in your world. 

Nelson Mandela reminds us that “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” In this continuing saga of you versus you, you have the right to change your mind, shift paths, and be your own unique self. You can take a summer job when friends go to camp. You can take a GAP year when no one else is. You can sit under a tree and read a book when the entire world shouts to be busy all the time. Your competition is you, and you alone. Choose the best you for this time and when that changes, choose again. Heed the advice of Dr.  Seuss, and believe truly that “you will move mountains,” because you will.  

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

You’re not too old and it’s not too late

“You need to hear this loud and clear; No one is coming. It is up to you.” - Mel Robbins

A friend of mine knew what she wanted in life at the age of six. My college roommate was sure by eighteen. A colleague of mine secured a job that became her passion, and I’m still coming up with ideas for what I wish to do next. There is no timeline, no behind, no ahead, no calendar, or time card to punch. You can start early or start late, it’s the start that matters. 

Oftentimes, when the end of a school year rolls around, we think we must have it all figured out. Our summer schedule, what next year brings, where we’re going, our direction in life, college majors, job interviews, career path, all of it. There’s this feeling of a frenetic pace that says do it all now. Sure, if that’s what feels right, go ahead, but also know that you can take a minute, gather your thoughts, breathe through the dis-ease, and leap later. 

And then when you change your mind, leap again. 

People move cities all the time. People change jobs and careers all the time. People retire out of their home country, start new paths later in life, and travel for travel’s sake because they want to. In San Diego, there’s a person who goes by the name Slomo. He's a retired neurologist in his eighties, and has roller bladed every day on the Pacific Beach boardwalk for decades solely because it brings him joy and he wants to share that with others. He’s built a legion of joy-seekers rolling by the beach. Iris Apfel was a name in fashion and art circles for years, but became a world renowned style icon in her eighties. Pop on social media and you’ll find heaps of humans well beyond their sixth decade known for their quirky statements (@greenladyofbrooklyn), fitness routines (@ageingdisgracefully_, @granny__guns), reinventions (@trainwithjoan), and focus on happiness (@robert.waldinger). Decades earlier, they held different careers, raised families, studied other topics, and lived in different regions. Today they have passive income streams, their own apps, and contribute to the betterment of humans the world over in a new and different way. 

The world smacks us with messages that try to shift our focus. 

The noise is loud, sometimes deafening, but you don’t have to listen. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: You vs. You

Every single human has doubts in one way or another; they don’t have to run the show.

You are your competition.

You are your champion.

The match is you versus you. No one is coming to do it for you—you must do the work. It’s up to you to take rest when you need. It’s up to you to plow ahead even when it’s hard, confusing, scary, or immensely exciting. Shut out the noise, celebrate your uniqueness, share your story, listen to your heart, and believe you can. There is no timeline for your greatness, yet, in the words of an iconic Broadway show, there’s also, “no day but today.” 

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” - Theodore Roosevelt



Please click the photo below for a collection of my Through the Eyes of an Educator columns:

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Compendium


Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at for more of her travel musings.