Yesterday I found myself in my local graveyard, sitting on the ground by a mossy tree stump, carefully wrapping tiny wooden dolls in wooly capes and tucking them inside knitted leaves so I could take pretty pictures of them. And, because brains are tremendous storehouses of every stressful thing that’s ever happened to you, I found myself thinking of a moment at the beginning of eighth grade.
My english teacher (hi Mrs. Bottorff!) called me aside after class and told me that one of my other teachers had warned her that I was simple (her word, not mine) and would never amount to much (apparently doodling on the margins of your notes meant you were doomed to failure, who knew).
For a kid who built a lot of her identity around being smart and good at school, that felt like a slap. Mrs. Bottorff explained that she knew I was fine, but that being smart only counted if you could convince the folks in charge of you that you were smart.
Now I know what she meant, and I know she was well intentioned. I even know that there are circumstances where convincing others of your abilities is more important than your actual abilities (infuriating though that is) and maybe it’s a good thing for a kid to learn.
But I also know that my life has gotten better the fewer people I have to convince. I don’t have to worry about grades these days. I don’t have a boss. And I figure all of you folks are a self-selecting bunch and are totally along for the ride. It’s all really working out rather well.
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