By Matthew Casey
I got to thinking about my past today. I was thinking about all of the people who have played some role in my life at one point in time or another. As I thought about this, one person that came to my mind was a nasty seventh grade math teacher who didn’t seem to like me that much and he seemed to think he knew what my destiny in life was going to be, even though I was only twelve or thirteen at the time.
I’m not going to name any names here, but this teacher didn’t think too highly of me. It is no secret that I am no mathematician. Math never has and never will be my strong subject, but for some reason back in the day this teacher seemed to think that because of my inability to successfully calculate angles and circumferences without a calculator that I would be a complete and utter failure. Somehow my hate and disgust for numbers sealed my fate in life in his eyes.
I will never forget the day just before school was out for summer that he said to the class that he could tell at that moment who was going to go far in life and who was going to be a complete failure. He began pointing to the people who were going to be “failures”. Suffice it to say, I was one of the few kids that his finger came to.
He told me that I was never going to be anything in life because I was horrible in math and that because of this I would be lucky to ever land a job doing anything better than pumping gas or flipping burgers Wendy’s. He told me that I would be the person pumping his gas every week and scrubbing his windshield clean and that if I missed one little smudge of dirt he would be talking to the manager to make sure that I lost that job.
Well, like Tuftin Dean’s country song “I’m not so Little Anymore” I would like to see this teacher now and reintroduce myself. Maybe he would be surprised that I am not working at a local gas station, nor am I flipping burgers in a fast food restaurant. In fact I think I am doing pretty well for myself. I live in Toronto; I am getting by somehow financially and getting a higher education. I am also living my dream and getting the chance to do what I love by interning at The Weather Network. So in my view I think I can be called a lot of things, but a failure isn’t among them.
I’m not resentful over this teacher, in fact this is the first time I have thought of the man in years. But it just makes me laugh at how someone can look at a person and judge them just based on superficial circumstances. How does anyone really know what anyone will accomplish or become in life? You can’t simply look at a person and judge them based on their strong points and weak points and tell them that they will never be successful.
Even history has shown there are people out there who were told they were going to be failures and would never make it in life but they beat the odds and are very famous today. For instance the great country musician Johnny Cash was told that he was never going to make it in the country music business because all he wanted to sing was gospel, look at how famous he became. He is now considered one of the founders of the country music genre. How about Oprah Winfrey? Before she was the “queen of daytime talk” she was television news reporters who was fired for being “unfit for television” and now look where she is. These people and there are many others are perfect example of why we shouldn’t just give up when we fail at something the first time around or the tenth time. Had Johnny Cash given up on his dreams look at the great classic country music the world would have been deprived of.
I’m glad that I didn’t settle for just being a gas bar attendant. To me when someone tells me I won’t make it or I will fail it makes me try even harder. There is nothing I love more in life than being able to prove somebody wrong about me. The satisfaction of overcoming what someone else thinks of me is better than the rush that I get from eating one of my favourite foods—chocolate.
So don’t give up on anything in life. If you have someone telling you that you will fail or aren’t going to make it do everything you can to prove them wrong someday. And for any teachers out there who may read this I hope you never tell any student, no matter how horrible you think they are, that they are going to be failures in life. There is just no reason to do that! Besides, you might even make them so angry that they will blog about you someday down the road.