(I know I probably share this part of my story a lot, It’s not my intention to sound repetitive. Some things in life merit repeating).
There was a point in my life, where I thought that I couldn’t be anything more than what I was. At the age of 17, I was a punk who was filled with apathy. Who didn’t care that he was alive, had no respect for himself or others. There I was sitting in a room full of teachers who’s emphasis was special education, the principle of my high school and maybe a psychologist to add to the equation. It was just before my first period English class. My dad was a police officer at the time had just gotten off work, (probably hadn’t had any breakfast) and was very tired. He sat next to me. Long story short, this group of special education teachers proceeded to tell me and my dad, that they didn’t think I was smart enough to attend university. I could hear them talking, but the rest of was apparently off thinking about something else. Again, I could hear what they were saying I only tried to act as if it didn’t bother me. Yet it did, the bell rang and my dad told me to go to my first period class. My dad tells me that when I left for my class, he proceeded to give everyone in the room a piece of his mind. And rightfully so, any good parent in their right mind would do that.
The truth of the matter is though, is that their words truly did damage to my perception of self and my own self-worth. In reality though, I should have stood my ground and told them all to go pound sand. No teacher has the right to tell a student that they’ll never amount to anything. Not ever. Teachers should be able to speak a level of truth to a student, if they are headed in the wrong direction. Use diligence is getting that kid back on the path as best you can. As I mentioned earlier, however, the comments the teachers and school board made stuck with me and for quite a while. I tried attending community college to appease my family, but truthfully, I didn’t enjoy it. I was still eagerly depressed and still didn’t believe that there was any hope for my life. In a way though, I am thankful that those special educations teachers spoke those words to me, because they taught me a few lessons. 1: Forgive ignorance I held on to the pain of their statements for far too long, because it was the only thing that I knew how to do. I had not yet understood the power of forgiveness, that forgiveness isn’t always for the other party, but for the healing of the mind and soul. That’s one of the greatest lessons that my faith has taught me, is that you can truly be set free and let go of the pain. If you have done that in your own life, I deeply implore you to do so. If you don’t, you will remain as I was.
2: Do More and Be More than You Think When I first held my college degree in my hands, I was so overcome with joy. Because I overcame the lies spoken to me. It was even more gratifying walking across the stage at my graduation as a psychology major. I got my first job working in child advocacy and things were awesome. Point being, is that I realized that there was no glass ceiling over my head keeping me from getting after my life other than myself. Not even having cerebral palsy. Was I scared in the process of college and my first job? Yes, very much! I had more doubts, fears and insecurities along the way. What truly helped me though, was letting teachers and friends speak into my life and build me up. I learned that my worth was found in Gods eyes, and not what somebody else said or thought about me. Sooner or later I had to stop giving a crap about what others thought, and start living my life. The same is true of you too, you need to discover who you are, what your talents and dreams are. You need to find out what makes you come alive and what springs forth real happiness for you. You owe it to yourself and the world around you to do so. Moreover, it doesn’t matter all that much, about how late you start in the game. Recently I was listening to a story about a man, who at the age of 37 decided to go after his dream of being a doctor. Which for him meant eight solid more years of schooling, on top of already having a master’s degree under his belt. So you see, the limits that we think we have only really come from the self. Discover who you are. Know what you’re worth and go after what makes you happy and feel full.
Image credit: Brandon pre-graduation with sister and dad