I was always a hard-working, dedicated student. Pretty much all straight A's from the get-go and by high school, was on a path towards all Honors and AP courses. That is, until my sophomore year. I was placed in the Honors English class and after turning in one of our first writing assignments our teacher announced to us that only a handful of us were "A" students, a few more were "B's" and the majority of us would be "C" & "D" students, according to her [highly subjective] opinion. At least that's my recollection of her speech. And you can imagine, for a girl who always strived for A's, this terrified me. But here's the thing about me, most definitely as a teenager, and even sometimes to this day: that rather than rising to her challenge, and BELIEVING IN MYSELF that I could get an A in her class, I shrunk in fear that I would get my first C or D. This had me in a state of panic, so much so that I arranged a meeting with her, my guidance counselor and my parents. The outcome of which was the decision to drop out of her class and return back to the non-Honors English class. That switch began a snowball effect that eroded my self-confidence, the belief in my intelligence and my academic abilities and by the time I graduated from high school, I was in NO Honors classes. I didn't even want to go to college, but wanted to pursue dance full-time.
Thankfully, my parents wouldn't hear of it and I did head off to James Madison University in August of 1990. It was there that I first encountered the notion that maybe my sophomore year Honors English teacher only had one opinion about my writing skills, not a hard fact. After turning in an essay about "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," my college English professor called me to his office. I was terrified. I thought I was in for a lecture on my poor writing skills. Instead, he said to me, matter-of-factly, "Megan, this is the most well-written Freshman essay I've ever read." Can you guess my reply? "That can't be true. My high school English teacher told me I couldn't write well." I was shocked to say the least. And thankfully, he was very encouraging. But it has literally taken me decades to erase the doubt that ONE teacher planted in my mind and in which I so readily believed. I would give anything to go back to my carefree days as a young girl, when the world was my oyster and I hadn't given anyone else the power to erode my confidence.
Two things have occurred since then that have helped me start believing in my writing abilities again... first, in starting my own business and associated blog, I am regularly amazed at my own posts, how easily the words flow out of me and in a clear and coherent manner, no less. Second, I found out this year that my high school English teacher had passed away and I thought, a la Elsa, "OK. It's time to LET IT GO." I've allowed her opinion to eat away at my confidence for far too long. It's time to release her hold on me and move forward with the knowledge that I can, in fact, not only write, but write well.
We all have negative self-talk that erodes our confidence, instills guilt and makes us generally feel lousy. So today, try a dose of self-love. Try BELIEVING IN YOURSELF. Because the only opinion of you that truly matters in the end, is your own.