We tend to live our lives according to the stories we tell ourselves. These stories become ingrained in us as children, starting from our parents and then our teachers, our peers, our siblings and others close to us.
I’ve just enrolled onto a writing course because I really want to improve my writing skills. Years ago I would never have thought it even possible to write, let alone share my writing with others. As a child I was always told by my teachers that I wasn’t bright enough. I avoided reading at school and wasn’t allowed to use a pen until a lot later than most of the children in my class.
The most damaging comment from a teacher was in my last year at school. He wrote “Anna should not go to university, she should consider an admin job!!”. I still have this report, actually it’s served it’s purpose, it has been in the back of my mind pushing me to do better. The sad truth is that this teacher never knew me, he always slept through our classes. How irresponsible. Oh and the fact that I was bilingual didn’t even figure in their assessment.
I went to university in my late thirties and achieved a first class honours degree, post graduate and a Masters. I read my first full book after leaving school, I think I was around 18 at the time. This was no simple book, “The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance”. I’d say it takes a pretty intelligent young person to read this book.
Then there were the comments from my parents “oh you are the clever one and your sister is the pretty one!” Wow how ignorant was that? So here you are a young child being told at school that you are not clever enough and then at home being told you are not pretty enough. Lucky for me, I used most of these negative comments to create a new voice for myself and I told myself a different story.
In the end, it’s the story you tell yourself that matters.
Of course as a child you don’t understand and take everything your parents say as the truth. As adults it’s our job to tell our children stories about how wonderful they are, how their lives can be wonderful and how you as their parent will always be there for them whatever happens. They are not naughty, they are children, they are not bad, they are children.
But somewhere along the line we must create our own stories, we must drop the stories others have been telling us and see the truth of who we are and who we are capable of being. We do not need to be limited by the limitations others have of us. Not even those of our parents and definitely not those of our teachers.
So here I go embarking on a writing course, Miss who wasn’t clever enough! Let’s see where that takes me.