I recently had a session with a client, and she was wondering when it was that as children we begin to lose confidence. I’ve thought about that, and believe it happens uniquely for each child when we encounter our first big disappointment, or embarrassment.
As soon as the client asked this question, my mind went back to first grade and the color brown. I can see myself at the back of the classroom with the other children, reaching into a box filled with color-coded reading level packets. Mine was labeled brown, representing the next to the lowest level, while my friends were in the higher, bright color reading levels. Oh how I wanted to be green or pink! I was shamed, as they could see my brown reading group color. I felt stupid. I was confident in all other areas of my life, but I struggled to learn in school. The struggle was my shameful secret.
By third grade things had not gotten any better. I had become a member of the “Skippy Club”. My teacher, Mrs. Calcagne had the students who skipped math work or got things wrong stay after school to complete work. I had to stay almost every day. As she was looking at my work one day after school, she realized that I was copying problems off the board incorrectly, but the work on my paper was correct. She suggested I get my eyes examined. My parents got me tested and voila! With glasses it was a whole different story- I could see. But, the thing was, I still struggled. It took me until high school to catch up to my peers.
Overall, in spite of my vision problem, which I didn’t know about until I was examined, I was a happy little kid. School was not the only thing going on in life. I may not have been good at school, but I was good at other things.
I was really good at playing outside. I loved to be in the woods with my sister, building forts. I was good at making friends. I had a great imagination too. I liked to use my hands to make crafts. I was good at talking (too much). I liked having fun. I hated to see other people left out at school. I seemed to look for ways to make other people more comfortable and feel accepted. I didn’t like people making fun of other people, and I would reach out to the ones who felt sad.
Are you beginning to see my Super Power? Academically, I did fine in high school and college, and chose a field where I could help other people, talk a lot and have fun doing the job while making a connection with them – a classic dental hygienist personality, right? My superpowers ultimately got me to coaching.
In our society, we are taught that academics are the end all to what is important for our future. Is this really true? So many of us go through life following the academic path to a great career that makes us stressed and miserable, while we have forgotten what gives us joy in life. Joy may get very little of our time.
Now, shift your thinking to what you are good at and enjoy doing. This is your superpower. It is what you are here to do and to give to others. Imagine being able to do what you love as a vocation. We give our best to others when we’re doing what we love. What we enjoy comes easily to us.
Our society believes that we must work hard and make lots of money, and that it doesn’t matter if we don’t like doing what we do. If something is easy for us there must be something wrong with doing it.
Well, it is time to change that way of thinking. We can begin to spend more time doing what is natural and easy for us, because that is really what we are here to contribute. If it gives us joy, it gives others joy as well and helps them to live the life they are meant to live as well. And, doing what is joyful and best for us is catchy!
So, in spite of my secret of feeling inadequate in school, I was able to grow the things I was good at, came naturally and had fun doing. I can see now, that even as that little child, I was already who I was going to be as an adult.
I invite you to revisit the child you were, and check in to see if you’ve followed the path in your life guided by your superpowers. If not, you can find what gave you joy then and rekindle that superpower to let it grow in your life today. This is a path to joy, inner peace and for me, connection.