Forty Things I Learned Before Turning 40: Lesson Three

Mitch Robertson
4 min readJan 27, 2021

I learnt to never let anyone kick dust on your sparkle.

There was a period of time I had a boss who I felt always seemed to rain on my parade. Anything I suggested or wanted to do was always met with resistance and reasons why it wouldn’t work or why I couldn’t do it. I felt like the positive changes I was trying to implement weren’t possible due to their negativity and the barriers they kept placing in front of me. I remember going to see Clare Bowen (an Australian artist who rose to fame on the US TV show Nashville) and during one of the stories, she beautifully weaved between songs, she finished with the line — “Don’t let anyone kick dust on your sparkle.” It was like she was speaking directly to me and it was crazy how much this resonated with me. It instantly became my personal mantra, one that I still live by today.

The message helped me to alter my mindset, in not giving someone else the power to dictate my joy and happiness. I remember going into work the next morning and having a conversation with colleagues about the lesson I’d learnt from the Clare Bowen gig the night before. I purposely stood directly outside my boss’ door, so that they could hear me. It was my way of voicing the new-found attitude and power I had discovered, and letting that person know that I felt they had dulled my sparkle for some time. I felt so empowered to go forth with the actions that would bring me joy and not listen to the nay-sayers and their negativity.

I would then share this saying with anyone that would listen to me; students, staff, family and friends. One memory that will always stand out for me was when I retold the story to a year 9 girl. She was having friendship issues with some other girls, where rumours and the typical schoolyard ‘he says/she says’ were getting her down. I explained that there would always be people that try to bring others down (the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate right?), because they were jealous or insecure. These people hope that by dulling someone else’s sparkle, it will allow them to shine brighter. Classic bully mentality; make someone else feel bad, to make yourself feel better. I was so pleased to see her face brighten from hearing my words of wisdom and saw her sparkle return almost immediately.

A few weeks later during a lesson, she bought a friend of hers over to chat to me. The friend was going through the same experience she had previously experienced. She asked me if I’d share the ‘sparkle story’ with her friend, which I gladly did. As they both walked away, it was so nice to hear the girl say to her friend, “I told you Mr Robertson would make you feel better with that story.” The cherry on top was, at the end of that year the girl gave me a small, sparkly glass jar, filled with glitter and told me, it was to thank me for teaching her never to let anyone kick dust on her sparkle; and a reminder for myself. I’ve kept it on my desk at work ever since.

It’s often hard, in the day to day living of life, not to get down in the dumps with the things that happen to us directly, or even from the things we see and hear going on in the world. However, we do have a choice how we let these things impact us. Another motto I have taken on board is ‘Protect Your Peace’, which I feel takes the message of not letting anyone kick dust on your sparkle a step further.

From a nutritional point of view, we are taught at school and reminded by the various sources in the media of the importance of the food we put into our bodies. But how often do we think about the things we allow into our minds? It came to me whilst doing some mindful breathing, how we would be conscious of the amount of air and how deep we were breathing in, if we were in a polluted environment. But how often do we think about the thoughts and opinions of others (and sometimes even ourselves) that take up space in our heads? Toxic words can get deep rooted in our minds, polluting our thoughts about ourselves and therefore affecting the way we think and behave.

It can also be said about WHO we let into our lives. If you are constantly surrounding yourself with toxic, negative, unkind people, you are inevitably going to feel like you’re living in an unhealthy environment. On the flip side, by surrounding yourself with positive people, who inspire you, support your growth and journey, it’s going to allow you greater opportunity to shine and sparkle.

Protect your peace is about being proactive in selecting what you allow in, what you limit yourself from or what you remove altogether, in order to feel good about YOU! Then when you find yourself in situations where the negativity is thrown directly at you, CHOOSE to sparkle despite the dust being kicked your way.