I was in fourth grade when my teacher, Sr. Joan, told me that the art of growing up meant learning to “cover your buttons.” She also told me that getting my period would mean that for the rest of my life I would be terribly sick every month for just about the rest of my life. She did not lie.
Anyway, when Sr. Joan told me about covering buttons, she put her palm over her heart and said, “You gotta learn to protect it.” I guess even then I was someone who wore my heart on my sleeve.
Today, I told my oldest son about button covering. He spent over a year preparing for the YoungArts (http://www.youngarts.org) competition. When the news broke today that he wasn’t a finalist, it was a lump in throat moment. It just was. Two of my students did make it and that made me super happy and I am exceptionally proud of them and to be honest the reason that I make all sixty of my AP studio students submit work to YoungArts is not because they might win. It’s because they very likely might lose and learning to lose in the arts in different than losing in sports and it is a lesson best learned early.
I told Luke that when it comes to jurors that one needed thick skin and an open heart and he needed to learn to cover his buttons. Truth is, Luke will find another way, and like the organization tweeted to him when they saw the photo of him that I posted, “#youbeyou.”
One of my students who won, just a week ago, decided to scrap art and become a food scientist. Sometimes the universe has a way of deciding for you. That happened to Lizzie this week. She tried out for her volleyball team, the one she played with last year. She tried out with over 100 other girls and 30 of them got offers. Lizzie was ranked number 32. Learning to cope with the feeling that you just aren’t “good enough” is a really tough lesson, but if it’s one that you can stare in the face and then just shrug and say #youbeyou, then it’s a good one. Like I said, sometimes the universe decides for you, and this time it decided that Lizzie would be better off in the hands of a different coach and that if she embraces that, more opportunity will come. And for Luke, it decided, it was not his time.
Know this, Luke. You are brilliant and talented beyond measure. You light up the room just by being in it and one day the rest of the world will know too. Just because I feel like the world should know now, I am sharing (with his permission), below, his audition and a few of his paintings. Cheer him on from the sidelines because he just learned the art of covering up the hurt and if you know that feeling too, if you have ever been told that you just aren’t quite good enough, then watch this and be the silent audience to not disappointment, but to the art of bouncing back. And three cheers and a giant group hug to Kate Sarner, Luke’s mentor, theater director and hero, who has taught him not to cover those buttons, but to leave ’em raw.
The monologue: http://youtu.be/-Jlh7QbKf_8
A glimpse at his amazing painting: