A few days ago, I was chatting with some friends about when people have spoken negatively into our lives. Not just one off comments, but those times when someone we should have trusted, who should have had our best interests at heart, used that position to speak rejection and defeat.
When I was a senior in high school, my primary goal was getting out of Kentucky. I was in the midst of applying for colleges, having hard decisions with my parents about my financial boundaries and limits, college majors, and that type of thing. I turned in my packet of applications to my guidance counselor one morning, hoping for a simple stamp of approval.
To give you perspective of the type of person I was back then, as I am not that kid much anymore. I flew as far under the radar as I could I school, I did get in trouble often..mostly for being….mouthy. I didn’t make stellar grades, even though I should have. I was a choir and theatre kid and not wildly popular.
My counselor called me down to her office later on that day. When I entered she was sitting at her desk with one of those big college anthologies of rates, tuition, that kind of thing. The first sentence out of her mouth was about why I hadn’t chosen a local school, KEYS money, blah blah blah. I know I snapped off something about FAFSA being useless to me and that college was my decision. I flat out didn’t want to go to any school in Kentucky. This conversation went back and forth about my grade point average, my lack of variety in extracurriculars and my lack of positive attitude. To which I fought back with, this is MY decision, not hers and a host of other sarcastic idioms I could muster.
Then she laid down her final card, the crushing blow to my already fragile self-esteem. “You’re not going to make it in college. I’ll be surprised if you made it in community college.”
I had been rejected from school plays, received average scores in choir competitions, been humiliated in front of my class, but never had I felt such a kick in the stomach. Flat out rejection, “there’s no way you’re going to make it”.
Luckily, I was accepted into every school I applied to (thanks to ACT and SAT scores). I have one bachelors and one masters degree. So she was incredibly and utterly wrong, I got my sweet revenge in my own way. But if I didn’t hear her voice in my head for years. Rejection has always pushed me to prove someone wrong, but it does cause this seed of doubt. The fruit from that is anxiety and fear that I’m constantly wrong and on the brink of failure.
I don’t think of that story all that often anymore. When it came up with my friends, I began to reflect on how far I did make it, even with the numbered few who never thought I would be here. Bad seeds don’t always mean bad fruit, if you cultivate it in the right way. Somewhere along the way, I just stopped listening to all that noise and pursued the path I was meant to follow. The fear people place on you, is actually their own. Your own truth is louder than that.