I watched a video last night about an author that was told multiple times throughout his life that he wasn’t smart enough for (fill in the blank), he was lazy, he didn’t try hard enough, etc. This author was diagnosed with dyslexia in grade school, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. His own father told him he probably wouldn’t graduate from high school, a high school teacher told him he’d probably end up end jail. His Freshman year of college (yep…college, not jail), he attended an English Literature lecture and knew that’s what he wanted to major in.
He gleefully waltzed the Dean’s office to declare his major and was quickly denied due to a less than stellar academic record, which included an IEP. For those who don’t not know, and IEP is an Individual Education Program, a plan for kids with learning and attention difficulties. The mere existence of this plan was enough for the Dean to declare him “not smart enough”. The great news, he proved them wrong, graduated with honors with a degree in English Literature and is now a bestselling author.
It’s stories like these that I find so inspirational and sad at the same time. Inspirational for the obvious, sad for all the people who heard these “prophecies” and believed them. I honestly think more people believe them than except them as challenges.
Please don’t label your children, your students, or anyone. You do not have the right to declare what their future will look like based on what you think you know. Words have real power, they can encourage, empower, and motivate or they can tear someone down faster than a burning building doused in gasoline. What’s worse, not everyone has the will to rise again. They stay down, they give those words power.
If you are someone whose been on the other end of these “prophecies”, remember…their opinion of you doesn’t matter, what matters, is your opinion of yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s your beloved parent, sibling, teacher, boss, (girlfriend’s parents) who state these declarations; what matters is the choices you make each day in pursuit your dreams, what matters is how you label yourself. Be the best you can possibly be and prove them all wrong. Accept the challenge.
This doesn’t mean we don’t value constructive advice if it could help us become better. It means hurtful labels have no power unless you give them power. No one can determine where your life will lead, you are driving that car. No one else!
Now go do life and do it well.
Written by: Kimberly Shapiro