(My collection of antique books)
Someone told me once to be careful in my actions towards others; that it's best to assume that everyone we meet is fighting a harder battle. We all have something we're hiding.
For me it's my insecurities towards reading and writing, and it's founded on some experiences I had in the 3rd grade. I couldn't read, at all, and was in danger of permanently falling in between the cracks. My Mom sought help, and found out the school had a reading program for 1st graders, but felt 3rd grade was beyond help. So they weren't going to help me.
My Mom's pretty special. She's gutsy and doesn't take no for an answer. A full-blooded Gryffindor. She spent many, many hours asking questions and getting help, and with the help of my teacher a program was developed, and during reading/writing time I would go with a handful of other students to learn phonics and read Curious George. I was told it would take many, many years to catch up to grade level, but I worked really hard and was testing at grade level by the middle of my 4th grade year. Regardless, I still felt stupid. I have clear memories in the 6th grade doing social study worksheets and not finding the answers. My friends would point to the paragraph where the answer was found, and still, reading the section repeatedly, the answer remained buried.
By my Freshman year of High School I received one of only two English awards in my class of 600+. By my Sophomore year I was placed in honors English. And in my Junior year I took AP Literature. Still I felt like I didn't know anything. I decided to attend Porterville College and took the placement test, and out of 50+ testers I was one of three that was allowed to go right into English 101. You would think that would boost my confidence, right? I transferred to the College of the Sequoias in Visalia CA, got a 4.0 that semester, transferred to Utah Valley State College and had a 3.98, making the deans list. Transferred to BYU and got an academic scholarship. You would think I would be getting a clue, but doubts still overwhelmed, regardless. Those 3rd grade memories not giving me any ease.
It finally clicked one day, and it sadly happened the semester before I graduated. I was in Music Literature 304, and we were about to get our blue books back after having taken our first essay tests. Before that happened our teacher decided to lecture us, telling us he gave very few A's, and that in all his years of teaching he's never had to tell a group of upper division University students how to write a proper essay. He went through all the points on what he expected, and each point he mentioned I did; I was freaking out. Then I got my blue book back, and at the top of both essays was an A. I went home that night dumbfounded and had a good cry. Why did I doubt? Why did I allow myself to feel insecure? Why did I waste all that time with worry!? Why?
(This was getting passed around on Facebook)
I worry about kids. I worry that there are many who are falling in between the cracks and are getting lost. Who are not learning to read, because someone, somewhere, felt they were a lost cause, unable to see that hidden glimmer of potential. Of greatness. How many times are we on the verge of something great, but give up when it's within reach, because we've stopped ourselves? Some voice from the past coming to haunt? Some bully? I had an eighth grade teacher tell me once, in private after school, that I was worthless, wasn't going to amount to anything, would never get into a University, and would never earn a scholarship. I proved her wrong, but that voice could have eaten me whole if I let it.
We're all special. We all have worth. We all have something great to give. And there is no comparing, because we are all unique and individual, with unique talents (not all talents are showy: love, kindness, patients, understanding are talents as well). I'm glad Leonardo da Vinci isn't Mozart; that Michelangelo isn't Einstein. No one would want them to be any different.
And I'm thankful to have people in my life I love.