I’m (Not) a Good Writer. {Article in English & Spanish}

Via Rina Jakubowicz
on Mar 14, 2012
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(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.



About Rina Jakubowicz

Rina Jakubowicz, yoga instructor, motivational speaker, and author of Choose Peace, is known for her vibrant and uplifting approach to yoga. Never shy about herself, she understands that we are all the same and openly shares the lessons of her life without reservation, fostering an environment of complete trust. Warning: Her love of life is contagious. Read more from Rina on her blog here. Rina Jakubowicz, instructora de yoga, oradora motivacional y autora de Choose Peace, es conocida por su enfoque dinámico y estimulante para el yoga. Nunca tímida acerca de sí misma, se entiende que todos somos lo mismo y ella comparte abiertamente las lecciones de su vida sin reservas, fomentando un ambiente de plena confianza. Atención: Su amor a la vida es contagiosa.


10 Responses to “I’m (Not) a Good Writer. {Article in English & Spanish}”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  2. shivanihowe says:

    Loved it Rina. Actually a little creepy, as i was thinking about writing the same article, down to the word, except his name was Mr Lovel. "your going to fail english, you cant write". It took me till 2 weeks ago (so thats … about 20 years) to actually get the courage enough to write my first article for EJ. Slowly Slowly, peeling away the mis-beliefs. with much love.

  3. ehassman says:

    I can think of 2 teachers, as well, and it still stings!

    One was the high school drama teacher. When she learned that I was in the honors program, she acted shocked; she said I "didn't seem like an honors student" (which I heard as "didn't seem smart").

    Another high school teacher, this time the art teacher, asked me during my Junior year, "What happened to you? I had such high hopes for you." As if, at 16 years old, I had already peaked, already failed, already fallen short of expectations.

    Maybe it's time for me to think about forgiving them, too. Or at least letting it go!

  4. Rina Jakubowicz says:

    Hey Shivani, Thanks for sharing. I would love to read your article once it's done! 🙂 Send it my way. namaste fellow awesome writer!!!! lol! 🙂

  5. Rina Jakubowicz says:

    Oh E, so sad. I just can't believe teachers don't realize what they are saying… but they themselves are dealing with their own issues. Well, I am hoping that you have embraced your intelligence and are continuing to shine… 🙂 Namaste'

  6. Rina Jakubowicz says:

    And yes, you can forgive them, but only after you have forgiven yourself first… We sometimes don't realize that we blame ourselves so much for things. Forgive yourself and you will be able to forgive others much easier. And I have learned that I cannot let things go unless I have truly healed them. Thus forgiving yourself and them… But you may be different. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story!

  7. Randall says:

    Glad you chose to write. I've also had teachers like you mentioned, but fortunately I also had teachers who were just the opposite and were very encouraging. Ironically, I think that does point to the importance of history, because often the past does continue to influence the present and the future, as you've shown, whether it's personal, local, national, or global. The Yoga Sutras are history, too. Perhaps the skill of yoga is remembering the best from the past and carrying that forward into the future. Best of luck to you!

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  9. yoguy says:

    Do you ever forgive your students?