Do you ever lie awake in the middle of the night with a thought just gnawing at you? Your brain is so awake and becomes consumed with this one specific thing? This happened to me last week with something that bothered me more the more I thought about it. And it was this; the realization that I never had a teacher in high school who told me I was good at something. The last time I remember a teacher complimenting my work was in the 7th grade, an experience I recently blogged about. But after that? I can't remember a single instance where I felt a teacher was proud of me. When a teacher complimented me. When a teacher told me I was doing a good job.
Maybe this isn't an unusual experience. Maybe you're reading and nodding in agreement, you didn't have a teacher mentor in your high school career either. Maybe this is the norm-- but it shouldn't be.
I had not desire to excel in high school because I didn't think I was capable of excelling. It wasn't until a year after graduation when I was taking classes at my local community college and finished the semester with a 4.0 did I realize that I could do well in school if I would just work a bit at it. I really think this had to do with the fact that I was paying for my classes with my (and Kevin's) hard earned money and I didn't want to waste it. If I was going to do this college thing, then I was going to do it right.
But I wonder what I could have done if I had a teacher who really believed in me and pushed me to do better. My parents have always been supportive. They were never too hard on me about my grades, but always believed that I could be the best in the room. But I figured all parents were like that and didn't pay it much mind. Do teachers realize how much power they have over a young persons life?
When I was thinking back on my high school career I realised that the closest thing I ever got to a teacher compliment was when a chemistry teacher embarrassed my younger sister in front of her entire class by saying, "Why aren't you good at this? Your sister got good grades in my class."
If those are the kinds of compliments teachers are giving out then they should just keep them. I remember my sister was devastated after that comment, and I was angry as well. I also remember thinking, if he thought I was such a good student, why didn't he tell me last year? My grades were fine, but maybe I would have actually pursued science further if I knew my teacher thought I had potential. But he didn't, and I didn't know I might have been good at it, so high school chemistry is as far as my science knowledge goes.
Anyway, I write all of that to say that with the support of my husband and my parents, I eventually gathered the nerve to give it my best. My first semester on the deans list was such a thrill that I set a new standard for myself. Last night I was inducted into the National Honor Society at the University of Minnesota. Getting into the National Honor Society is something I never thought I could have done in high school. But the truth is, I could have. I just wish a few teachers would have told me to go for it.
Moral of the story: sometimes we have to stop waiting for the encouragement and support of others, and realize the abilities we already possess. Own it. And study!