I was an exceptionally gawky kid growing up.
Blame it on being a fast grower. Blame it on not having a father who played ball with me. Blame it my disinterest in sports. But I was uncoordinated.
My older cousin, Bob, who played college baseball was as close to a jock that my extended family ever had. He took me to the basketball court one day for a friendly game. When we returned home, he told my mother, “That kid is the most uncoordinated person I’ve ever seen. He needs help, or he’s going to hurt himself some day.”
Well, I didn’t hurt myself, unless you count personal dignity. My freshman year in high school, all the guys in my PE class were required to take a basketball test. It was simply dribbling a ball through an obstacle course of traffic cones. Where other were taking about 20 seconds to get through it, it took me about two minutes. The others laughed and I got embarrassed.
High school years are awkward for everyone, except those for who high school is the peak of their life. I had some highlights, but early on, it was pretty much a nightmare for me. After my freshman year, I considered going to a different school, but decided to hang in there. And it got better. I got involved in drama and music, and found an identity in creative outlets. And even though my grades weren’t that good, I got the highest ACT score in the school that year and wound up with a scholarship. I had found what I did well, and decided to stick with it.
And that’s the lesson here. Everyone…and I mean everyone…has something they don’t do well, something that they aren’t proud of. On the flip side, everyone has something they do well. You succeed in life by sticking with what you do well, becoming passionate about it and making that your identity.
I have a student now who suffers from stuttering. It makes for embarrassing class presentations, in the case of one of my classes on video, but he doesn’t let that stop him. And he has one thing going for him: he is a very good writer. Whether that has developed as compensation for his oral skills or simply a God-given gift, in years to come I know he will embrace both the natural strengths he has as well as his ongoing challenges.
Don’t let others sell you on their definition of success, or on what kind of person you need to be. Be yourself and be happy. Do your best, and challenge yourself to do better.
In other words, take those lemons and make lemonade.