What I’d Love to Say to My Students Someday

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” 
― Walter Bagehot

This was the quote I chose to represent me my senior year of high school. It sounds highly “academic”…and it half was. Yeah…if someone says, “Hey! No way you can spell that word!” I’m gonna spell it. And if someone challenges me to solve a math problem because they think I can’t do it…I’m gonna do it. What most people don’t know is that the other half of me chose this quote because I liked going against absolutely anything my father said.

You can’t do this. You can’t do that. Come home by 11 pm or you’re grounded. Call me back in five minutes or you’re grounded. He was strict. But he cared. I did not see this side of things until I grew older. When I was younger, I only saw how great it felt to take my little jabs at him, at authority, where I could.

One time, I was driving to a park to go run, my favorite thing to do in the world. However, I dropped my iPod, and while driving, reached down to pick it up. Before I knew it—SMACKthe crunch of metal—swerve right, swerve left—the back left side of my car hit a telephone pole, and I’d almost spun out of control.

My mistake had cost me my entire $3,000 in savings—and my running shoes.

Beside the financial side of things, my father had grounded me, and most notably, took away my running shoes, so that I could not run. It was the worst punishment he could possibly give me. Beyond that, he assigned me an essay as punishment—bad idea for a child who enjoyed writing, and writing well. While I did a lot of research for the essay, I also got in my fair amount of sarcastic comments to stab at my father. And while I was not supposed to run, on the third day of my grounding, my mother showed me where my shoes were…and that day: I ran and I ran and I ran.

I did that which my father told me I could not do, and I enjoyed every mile, every minute, and every step of it. When I returned home though, I did not find the peace I’d hoped for. And I didn’t understand why I didn’t find it—until today. I used to focus so much on how unfair my father was, how much he yelled at me, and how incredibly stupid and dramatic he was acting. I forgot to look from the other side of things though, as my father would see things.

As far as he could see, his oldest daughter could have fatally injured herself while mindlessly driving a car too fast and simply not paying attention. All he wanted to do was to keep her safe and to help her learn. Because I was not being smart, and because I was thinking and acting so negatively, I failed to see this.

I’m not trying to teach you a specific lesson here or change the way you act, speak, or think. I’m just hoping to show you that maybe, just maybe, the adults in your life are up to some good, and that maybe, just maybe, if you listen just hard enough—you’ll hear just how much they really care for you to succeed and to live a happy life.

Why? Because they know you can. They’re just waiting for you to rise up and meet the challenge.

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