This week, Antionette Meeks will be joining Cairn Guidance as the Dove Self Esteem Coordinator. Below, is her introduction to you!
By Antionette Meeks
Resilient says a lot about who I am. Without a doubt, though, I’ve had my moments of feeling low, but I’ve always bounced back quickly. To say that I have a positive, hopeful, and thankful spirit may be an understatement. The question is, why? What made me so positive and resilient as a child and on into adulthood? How are these qualities connected to my career path?
I am Antionette Meeks, the Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Coordinator for Cairn Guidance, and I had the proverbial village. My village consisted of people who lifted me up and helped me understand and live two words: “I can.” I am grateful for them.
Who made up my village? Early on, it consisted of my parents, great grandparents, great aunt, siblings, other relatives, neighbors, my dad’s customers, and other adults. Later, my village included friends, teachers, professors, coaches, scout leaders, clergy, and colleagues. Globally, there are historical figures that fought and achieved for themselves and/or others, national figures, and even some celebrities.
Those in my initial village set the foundation. My father taught me to be inquisitive, think, and take initiative. Both of my parents imparted the importance of trying and doing my best. The race was never against another; the race was for me. My parents taught kindness, gratitude, honesty, and respect for self and others. They taught me to stand up for myself and others, and for that which was right.
I learned the value of education, being able to speak coherently, and using facts to support a point. Further, I was taught to respect varying opinions. It was okay to bend, but not break. My great aunt taught compliance to rules that serve purposes.
My great grandparents added giving. They all taught love.
Everyone in my village, without fail, taught, “I can”. Teachers always encouraged, giving additional learning support and using tools to move me forward. Professors helped me succeed by their instruction and one-on-one discussions in the hall or their offices. Coaches taught the concept of teamwork, playing fair, and encouraged me not to settle for less than what I knew I could do. We were all taught to be teammates, understanding what we brought to the team as individuals. We learned the importance of the journey versus focusing solely on the win. The win was the “gravy”.
The village taught me to laugh, laugh at myself, have fun, and not take life too seriously. The expectation, ultimately, was that I was to achieve – do my best. It was okay to fail, learn from it, and move on. The village expected me to find my life’s path – knowing I may walk many on my discovery tour and that was okay. I found my path as a teacher and coach. It just seems natural that I would begin my professional career as a health/physical education teacher. I enjoyed helping 5 of 5 students learn their “I cans”. The opportunity to touch more lives led me to a school district-level role, leading to contact with educators at all of our schools. This new role helped me develop relationships with several local agencies and organizations.
Later, working for the state health and education agencies gave me even greater reach. Returning to my educator roots as an adjunct for undergraduates, graduate, and doctoral students confirmed my reason for selecting this career path. Giving back through board memberships and community involvement added to my path.
Quite simply, I believed in me. I believed in my unique gifts and skill sets. I had people in my life that told me and showed me, “I can”. I chose a career path that allowed me to impact young lives, helping them see and experience their “I cans”. I want youth to feel good about themselves, feel empowered, fell courageous, feel joyful, feel whole. My path, beginning with my village, gave me the tools and desire to be a part of the positive journey of the youth and professionals with whom I have worked.
How one sees themselves, sees their world and sees themselves in the world, makes a difference. See yourselves as beautiful or handsome, smart, talented people.
Everyone doesn’t necessarily have a village, but they do have themselves and often, at least, one person who believes in, cares for and encourages them. I hope I have been that one as I have touched lives along my journey. I know I am looking forward to this journey, working with the Dove Self Esteem project.