There are so many folks from my past that help shape my future every day. From the woman who was in charge of the daycare, I attended to teachers that helped mold me as I entered Kindergarten through High School. One of those teachers recently passed. We had a volatile relationship but I admired her greatly and learned much from her. Things I thought I knew, I had no inkling of but as I grew, I found a kindred spirit in ways I never would have imagined.
When we’re young, we don’t understand adults. For one thing, we have our world that revolves around school and our friends, and yes, it involves our parents and/or siblings yet we are shielded from the harsh realities. There are always exceptions to this but overall, most kids are shielded from the dangers that the real world presents. It’s been my experience that the kids who had to face those harsh realities regularly go one of two ways. They either use those experiences to propel them to a more successful way of life or they succumb to the environment that they grow up in. That is if they are even able to grow up at all. Some of them never make it to be an adult. The harsh reality of gangs and violence is more prevalent than society wishes to acknowledge.
The woman that watched me in nursery school made a lasting impression on my life. She was full of life. She adored children and allowed them to play creatively and with a freedom that isn’t awarded children today. Mainly because of all the threats towards children. But in the early 70’s things were very different. As the children aged out of the nursery program, she presented each of the children with a piece of jewelry that had their name engraved on it. I still have mine. The bracelet isn’t worth much monetarily, but it’s irreplaceable to me. It’s a reminder that there are people who believe in us even when we don’t understand the potential we have.
There have been several teachers in my life who have pushed me to either regress or excel. I attended an elementary school near Southern Pines and one of the teachers intimidated me so much that I became withdrawn. She was one of the most physically attractive women I had ever met and I wanted to make her happy. Nothing I did with her was right. I craved positive attention from her and instead received harsh criticism and ridiculed in front of my classmates. Due to how young and inexperienced I was, I didn’t recognize that her issue with me was based on her insecurities. I was the daughter of a minister. She was living with a man in a time that if you weren’t married, there were major issues with that. I was a reminder of her subconscious. My formative years were greatly affected by her demeanor. I would go home in tears or wet my pants because of how much she loved to belittle me to others. I will never know what happened to her or where she is now but I have to thank her. She helped me gain a backbone. I don’t agree with the methods she used. Yet, I can truly say that her actions helped me learn about the kind of person I never wanted to be. In that respect, she gave me the platform that I needed to launch my deepest fears over. For when we can combat the fear of rejection, we’ve started to win a battle that others have no idea what war we’ve fought. But the person fighting it knows. And in my case, I’ve been able to talk about the experience only because if it helps others to see that there are people in this world who are not okay with themselves, and their actions are a reflection of this.
When my parents moved to another area, I had a teacher named Mrs. Houck. I loved her. She took a poor educational experience from the previous year and made me feel loved and accepted where I was. She was the one who brought reading to life for me. She made the stories that were read feel as if I was being transported into the pages. She taught me skills that I still utilize to this day and she never made me feel as if I wasn’t important. She had a class of about thirty or forty but she made each child feel special. That’s a rare gift. This was during a time that computers were just starting to come into play. There was a game called Lemonade that the first computer programs that the school initiated was presented. The game helped all of us learn about computers and math at the same time. She, along with the other teachers in elementary school, helped all of the students try to learn with the times. It was through her actions and those of my other teachers, that helped me to understand the capabilities that computers would have in the future. It’s because of all of them that I’m not afraid to sit down at a computer.
Like all of you, there are people in my life that are no longer living that have made me stronger and more resilient. There have been influencers who have reminded me that talent only goes so far if it isn’t nurtured and cultivated. I bring some of these instances up, not necessarily to rehash them but to acknowledge they happened. I suppressed a lot of those memories for a long time. When we are bullied in our lives, it can leave serious scars. Some are physical but there are many mental scars that the world can’t see but yet exist. We all have a little bit of the Rocky mentality in us. There’s a fighter inside all of us that will surface when our triggers have been activated.
Some of you are successful with everything you touch. If you are among those, then you are very blessed. But there are many who are fighting to be heard in various scenarios. Many of them use experiences that left a bad taste in their mouth to excel in the future. If someone has been overweight and then loses a lot of weight, society says how wonderful it is. But, has anyone thought about the battles that person may have undergone? What about the battles they still might be fighting? There’s a lot of issues that people bury until reminders resurrect them. It’s through many of those instances that successful people are born. Why? Because they don’t want to go back to the way things were. They still hear people in their minds telling them they aren’t good enough. They may not have been considered pretty enough or skinny enough, or even socially acceptable enough. Whatever they were told was not true. But in the person’s mind that they hurt, those worlds circle around. Sooner or later, the actions that person takes manifests into something either very positive or negative. There is so much that depends on a person’s mindset but when a person has the “eye of the tiger” scratching their soul, then others need to be prepared for what’s coming. Because that person is going to do things to prove their talent and worth. So before you look down at the person who may be an assistant, or in a role that you don’t deem important, remember this – every person on this earth has had people who have either influenced them positively or negatively. It’s through the actions they experience that can have a lasting effect on their lives.
Believe it or not, success is not defined by money. At least not all successes. Success is defined by the mark we make on each other. And if we have people who have helped mold us along the way to be strong, kind, and compassionate people, then we are already helping to form leadership roles in any venue we are in. Anyone can go out and make money. It takes people from all walks of life to make a difference and leave an impression. Something tells me that all of you have what it takes to change this world for the better.