(Para leerlo en Español, haga clic aquí.)
I have been racking my brain all week trying to figure out how to express my feelings in the first article I post as a regular contributor for Elephant Journal. There is so much I could say regarding this phenomenon… So, naturally, I have writer’s block!
The reason I call this a “phenomenon” is because I have had a major issue in my life of believing that I’m not a good writer and that I’m not smart enough. These perceptions started in high school.
Let me set up the story a bit so you understand from where I got these feelings of inadequacy. Back in high school, I wasn’t the smartest of the bunch. I got mostly Cs at a prestigious school known for intelligent academics and mediocre sports. Since I wasn’t book smart, I loathed History, Government and English. I found History pointless because I felt there was no value in learning something that was no longer present (yogi in the making.)
Government class went in one ear and out the other because I felt there were too many rules and it was hard to tell when something was right and something was wrong (another hidden yogi quality.) And, finally, English. English was my nemesis. I enjoyed the stories and I would visualize them beautifully in my head, but then I couldn’t articulate on paper the metaphor seen on page 33 or how this one act foreshadowed this other act, or how the mirror symbolized depth, etc.
This haunted me for many years because of two memorable English teachers, Mrs. Borona and Mr. Brandt. One day in my freshmen English class with Mrs. Borona, I was standing next to her desk in front of the whole class and I was sharing how much I loved reading the comics in the newspaper every morning. The only comic I didn’t like was Doonesbury. Her response was “Only smart people like Doonesbury.” For years I would look at the Doonesbury characters with scorn since I didn’t understand them nor did I care to.
My second year of high school, Mr. Brandt left his mark on me as well. He flat out told me, in front of the class, “You aren’t good at English and you aren’t a good writer.” Since then, I have carried these two strong perceptions of myself.
That is, until I decided to write my book, Choose Peace: A Practical Guide into Consciousness. Oddly enough, I almost didn’t write or publish my book because of what Mr. Brandt put in my head. I was scared of what people would say about my style of writing. I forced myself to go through the steps of my own book, to heal the wounds both Mr. Brandt and Mrs. Borona left in me.
I surveyed a few people and asked them if they had any similar stories from high school and I came to learn that many people have a memory of some teacher negatively impacting their opinion of themselves.
Teresita from Puerto Rico said that a teacher questioned her high grade on an exam in front of the whole class, wondering how she could have done it if she was so quiet and never participated in class. She made her prove she didn’t cheat. To this day she feels that she doesn’t deserve any kind of achievement because she is quiet and keeps to herself. Adi from Venezuela said her ballet teacher told her she couldn’t dance, therefore she doesn’t like dancing, even to this day. Such simple sentences expressed in one moment can make such lasting impressions.
My purpose in sharing these stories with you is to help inspire some reflection on your own life and see how one person’s opinion of you from many years ago may still be determining your behavior and feelings of yourself right now. In addition, what have you said to others that may have left a mark on their opinions of themselves?
Regardless of your profession, we all have our own Mr. Brandts who mold us if we choose, but it is up to us to see ourselves for who we truly are. And according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we are Pure Consciousness! Pure Love! Pure Bliss! Pure Energy!
These labels of “good or bad writer,” “good or bad dancer,” or “good or bad person” are merely labels in the opinion of the person speaking. It is relative truth unless you choose to turn it into your personal truth. You always have a choice!
When someone says you can’t do something, show yourself you can! When someone says you aren’t something, show yourself that you are! Or just let it go.
And, yes, I have forgiven both Mr. Brandt and Mrs. Borona.
It wasn’t personal.
Editor: Andrea B.