FRIDAY THOUGHTS: DON’T LET ONE OPINION STOP YOU
When I was in high school, I had a teacher that absolutely ruined writing for me. I mean truly ruined it. Let me give you a little background.
I was in about fourth grade the first time I thought that maybe I could be a writer, or rather someone who was good at writing. I started writing short stories, poems, and “books” in middle school. By my junior year of high school I had fallen in love with F. Scott Fizgerald and his beautiful interpretation and command of language. I was inspired to learn, grow, and develop my own writing style.
My senior year of high school, that all changed.
I had a teacher who, whatever her motivations or intentions were, made me hate writing.
She picked apart everything I wrote, and no matter how many changes I made, revisions I did, or times I stayed after school, in her eyes I never improved. I internalized it. It went from frustrating, to Infuriating, to downright disheartening.
I had loved writing for as long as I could remember. After that year, I dreaded it. What’s worse, I thought I was awful at it.
Flash forward five years, writing is my biggest strength. I write every day at my job, I write for this blog, and I write just for myself in my free time, because I really do love it again.
How did this happen? How did I find my way back?
Here’s what I think:
This teacher was teaching exclusively towards the AP test, with what seems like no regard for anything else.
I have always been very creative. I felt suffocated by the way this teacher wanted the her students to write. She wanted us to take a rigid formula (which she had decided was the best way to write an AP essay), and plug in the “right” answers (which of course she also determined).
I like to challenge myself to think outside the box, surpass expectations, and in this case consider complex, nuanced arguments about layered characters. This teacher wanted us to regurgitate what she told us, which was the one and only acceptable answer. In fact, her favorite quote was, “there’s no such thing as an original idea.”
I started to hate writing because I was led to believe that the only way to be good at it was to completely remove myself, my opinions, and any creativity form the whole process.
I was incredibly nervous to go to college and try to tackle any of those writing assignments.
Here’s where this story turns around. My freshman year of college I had a professor who saw in me everything that that teacher had tried to crush-- creativity, outside the box thinking, a love for complicated arguments, and a desire to push myself and my writing to get better.
This professor not only encouraged me and gave me positive feedback, but let me create my own prompts, further develop my opinions, and write about what I was passionate about.
He taught me realize how powerful of a tool writing could be, and helped me fall in love with it again.
As hard as that senior year english class was for me, it helped me learn a valuable lesson-- Never let one opinion stop you from doing what you love.
So what if that one teacher thought I was terrible? You can never please everyone. That stinks when it’s coming from someone giving you a grade, but you’re always going to encounter people like that.
Maybe it’s a blog reader, or a boss, or someday a publisher, there’s always going to be people who don’t like what I do. As long as I like what I’m doing, and what I’m putting out into the world, than that’s enough for me.