One time when I was grabbing lunch or dinner or coffee or whatever with my old high school French teacher (shout out to all the weird kids who maintained friendships with their teachers after high school/college!), I was lamenting over the fact that my at-the-time college French professor had recently told me I wasn't very good at French. He had put it in a nicer (but not much) way and I was devastated.
French was something I had worked hard at improving. I always felt like it wasn't something that came naturally to me; I had to study and work at it and my accent wasn't great. I did well but not superb. But I loved it. Oh how I loved it. I even took a French choir class. More than once! So when this professor, a man whose opinion I respected, told me that it was something I should reconsider pursuing, my heart sank.
This is when my wise old Madame looked me in the eye and told me that if people only ever did what they were good at, they wouldn't be doing much.
And almost ten years later, I hear her petite French voice telling me that same thing time and time again.
It's a good day when you realize you're not good at something but then you keep doing it anyways. I had actually taken a semester off from French because of what my professor had said, but only one semester. I kept chugging along, working and improving and getting better-little by little. Most importantly, however, I still enjoyed it.
Since then, I have thought a lot about things I might have stopped doing just because I wasn't as good as I expected to be. The list is long. Paint by numbers? They are hard...but boy are they satisfying.
The education world loves the idea of a 'growth mindset', and as much as I've pushed this on my students, it's only recently pushed its way into my own mind. Improvement is key. Don't compare yourself to how others perform. Do your best. Be your best.
This means recently that I've started doing things I've never done before-with little expectation. My only goal has been to compete against myself. To get even just a little better. To prove to myself that even though I'm not the best at something, I can still do it.
In conclusion, my brother and I signed up to do a half-marathon. It happened on Saturday. It wasn't pretty and it was hard. And I spent the last 1.5 miles chanting to myself "I can do hard things." But, I did it.