When anyone looks back at their lives, short or lengthy, there are some defining moments. In themselves trivial but they leave the impact forever. Some are positive others as corrosive as rust. A teacher or a parent has the power to limit you or help you touch the stars. I remember so clearly that a certain teacher told me I was destined to be different, march to a different drumbeat and take great comfort and satisfaction in my non conformity…not to be afraid of it, but to embrace it and walk on and on and on. For the 21 years I was on earth, this encouragement stayed with me like a lantern on a dark night. The solace that a passing remark can make is immense. By the same token a harsh remark can not only,just hurt for the momen,t but become a scar on the psyche.
It can be from body shaming, a teacher mocking your size or height or lack of it, your face, your features, your voice and leaving you whistling in the wind. We always talk of bullying in schooldays, as something that, children visit upon children. We never really acknowledge that perhaps the most damaging bullying comes from teachers often through a chance remark.
It could be anything. You have acne and a teacher calls you spotty. Mocks the treble increase in your voice, and you are now afraid to speak. Jeers at your imperfect first ever public address, or elocution, or debate and even though you know you are good you never want to go up, on stage again. Laughs in your face and despairs at your effort to write poetry or prose and tells you that you will never be a writer. Never say never teacher, because now I not only need to fight the competition, but now I have to wrestle with your indictment.
It happens more often that you think. Teachers have the power to destroy your self confidence and turn you away from your ambitions to settle for a mediocre nothingness because they made you dislike yourself.
And if it isn’t body shaming it could be a classroom embarrassment of ridiculing your work in front of everyone, so you want to die of shame and you are scarlet from embarrassment and you can never get over it. The class clown, because the teacher willed it so.
Then there is the in between where the bullying is subtle and as sharp as a stiletto. The teacher does not give you that free rein he or she gives a favourite. The bitterness and the resentment rise in the throat but it is that one mark, that A+ kept elusive and praise heaped faintly never fully.
I have been a victim of that. Patted on the back but always pulled in a bit, just short of the other guy regardless of how hard I tried until the frustration does begin to get the better of you and you give up trying.
That is the error we make. We are young and vulnerable, and we want that recognition like a thirst, and we don’t get it, so we conclude that we are not good enough, we fall short. Big mistake. If you are one of those, also rans, the one on the podium, but second, just do not give up. That teacher is not your yardstick for the future. See it as a hurdle that has to be overcome, don’t fall down, you know how good you are.
I did fight. Very hard. And many a time my innate common sense told me that I should be at the top of the class, the cherry on the cake, not the icing and now when I look down upon my footprints in the sands of time I know how smart it would have been to see it as a spur and not as a hindrance.
So remember this, fellow student. Don’t let them get you down because they are graceless. You know that in the end, the only of yourself is yourself.