Thank you to the teachers who didn't believe in me

Shoutout To All The Teachers Who Never Believed In Me

I was capable of so much more than you told me I was.

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I always love hearing stories from peers and colleagues about inspirational teachers they had growing up-- inspiring them for future careers, and telling them to always "reach for the stars". I never really had that, no teacher really expected much from me, nor encouraged me to "reach for the stars".

So, in turn, being a young kid, I believed them, and I never thought much of myself when it came to academia. I continued on from middle school into High School with this self-imposed identity of a low-achiever. Although my family and friends had always been loving, they never expected much from me, and therefore I didn't either. When I wouldn't thrive academically, they would always playfully resort back to the phrase-- that slowly became a sense of my identity, "Well, at least you're pretty".

Soon enough, I grew to accept that false identity. Throughout high school, I associated with low-achievers, because I thought I'd feel accepted. Teachers would then encourage me to continue with my artwork and singing, and say that was my strong suit, and I should "just stick with that". Now, being artistic is an amazing gift, I'm not undermining this, but why couldn't I have both? I didn't second guess my teachers, and continued on, not expecting anything from myself when it came to grades.

Then finally something switched, I saw friends getting accepted into their dream universities, and begin fulfilling their dreams. So I was fed up, my whole mindset changed. I was done feeling sorry for myself.

I began to surround myself with friends who inspired me to work hard and take on new challenges. I found myself achieving my goals and found the confidence I never experienced before. Now, I was the hardworking student who inspired others; receiving praise from my professors for always going above and beyond and setting a great example for my fellow peers.

I became a leader and had systematically rejected and overcome the negative stereotypes that had surrounded and immobilized me.

Thank you to the teachers who didn't believe I'd come this far. All of this helped me to thrive under pressure and made me realize I was capable of so much more than you told me I was.

I have no resentments to all the teachers who never believed in me. I thank you for the whirlwind of a journey you took me on with finding confidence in not only my academics but myself as a whole. Hearing for years that, "you're not smart enough", "some people are just inherently brilliant and some aren't", "just marry a smart guy", and "maybe college just isn't for you".

Total B.S.

Sadly it took me a while to figure this out, some people, like myself, might have to work a lot harder to get that A. This has given me the capability to work harder than I ever thought possible, not only in academics, but everyday life--working out, helping others, work, and so many more activities. Taking that drive and-- I know it's a cliche, but as my Dad would always say-- "If you set your mind to something, there's nothing you can't do".

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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