Hello dear readers,
My wonderful friend Jocelyn posed an interesting question on Facebook yesterday:
“What did someone tell you about yourself in elementary school that you still believe?”
Her own answer broke my heart: “You can’t sing. Just mouth the words.” She has believed it to this day, and will not sing in public, even though she has the nicest speaking voice I have ever heard.
This got me thinking. How many people say cruel things to children, never dreaming that these misguided comments will shape their entire lives?
The thing I was told, over and over again, was that I did not work up to my full potential. Like Jocelyn and her singing, I still feel this is true today. I will go through periods of incredible achievement–in kickboxing, in my writing, in my job, in my other job–that are followed by an inevitable slump. I can’t seem to maintain that standard of excellence forever, and perhaps that’s normal. Maybe if I concentrated on one thing at a time–being the best kickboxer I can be, or being the best writer I can be, I’d achieve a level of success that I never dreamed possible. However, that doesn’t seem realistic. No one gets to focus on just one thing in their lives, and if they did, I suspect they’d be quite bored.
I didn’t work up to my full potential in school because I was bored. A lot of my teachers were terrible, both as instructors and human beings. Some got fired for physically or verbally abusing us; others because they hadn’t taught us a thing in months. In response, I retreated into an imaginary world and did what interested me. I wrote plays in math class because my Grade Four teacher should have retired years before, hated children if they dared to speak, and had no interest in teaching the multiplication tables. Boredom can be blamed for a lot of my inertia today, too. Boredom and fatigue. I find it difficult to stay the course.
Jocelyn’s Facebook post got me thinking, though. Do we fit the labels given us as children, or, once those labels are forced upon us, do they become our new reality?
What were you told about yourself in elementary school that you still believe today?
Thank you to Jocelyn for the inspiration for today’s post.