It’s even more difficult to remember where we’ve been when something or someone is trying to pull us away from the things we love. The one fact they seem to dismiss, however, is we love those things because we spend so much time building and molding them.
Those who try to tear down what we’ve built can often distract us. We tend to feel the effects of that distraction long after it comes into our lives, whether it’s a simple nudge or a well-calculated punch to the gut. The problem then becomes a matter of holding on for too long and finding the strength to let go.
I never assume things simply happen for the sake of happening. I don’t think certain people come into my life at random, either. Everything I’ve been through is its own story. I could leave it there, but something else has always been attached to the story by the time each is written. So, it made sense when I thought there was a lot more to college than taking a bunch of classes, earning good grades and making a lasting impression.
I was admittedly focused on making an impression on the right people. Up until the end of my sophomore year, there weren’t any indications I had made a bad impression on anyone. However, I knew a change had come rather quickly and wasn’t handled professionally or gracefully. I also knew whatever happened was going to make me a stronger, more poised human being. What I didn’t know was how incredibly influential the last two years of my college career would be – and who was ready and willing to take me under their wing. If anything, I wanted to turn the events of the past year into something positive. I didn’t know how I’d do it, but I had faith in myself. It was considerably less than before, but it was good energy regardless. It was energy I needed.
I was sitting in one of my English classes in 2008, knowing I had to be forced to leave campus altogether a year earlier. I still felt betrayed, and I was trying not to let it show. In fact, this was my second chance to prove I shouldn’t have been pulled out of my classes at all – much less by my caseworker. None of my professors didn’t know what had happened. They just knew I left. That didn’t sit well with me, so I continued to do what I’ve always done – put my head down and work hard.
It was towards the end of my junior year when by one of my English professors asked me to stay a few minutes after class. “Sure,” I said, not knowing what he was going to say or do. I honestly thought I had written something that wasn’t up to par – or perhaps he found out I had been unceremoniously asked to drop out of college.
I didn’t jump to any conclusions. I waited a little longer as the room cleared out. My professor pulled out a chair, sat down and made sure everyone had left, before making a simple but very clear observation that would begin to pave the way for my career as a writer.
“Erin,” he said in a calm yet excited voice. “I think you should use your disability as a platform for your writing. You’re already on to something good with your skill and talent. You need to be utilizing what you have – and doing so in a way that impacts other people.”
I couldn’t believe it. That was what I’d wanted to do all along! Now, however, there was a sense of affirmation because someone else acknowledged there was a much deeper purpose to my writing. I wasn’t waiting for a pat on the back after the debacle with my caseworker, but this was a much-needed boost. It let me know I was still on the right path and people were coming with me this time.
My professor had me pegged in a manner I had never seen or felt before. He knew my strengths, my ambitions, and my goals simply by watching me in his class and reading my work. Not only that, but he had brilliant ideas about how to help me effectively make the most of what I’d been given. It was as if he’d known me my entire life when, in reality, I had only been in his class for a few short months.
This is the same professor who would oversee my senior project at Penn State Altoona a year later– my last opportunity to do something impactful on campus. It would be my chance to leave college the way I wanted to, but it ended up being much more.
You can get through life riding your own waves of positivity. You can succeed. You can even thrive, but you’ll be surprised what can happen when someone else believes in you as much as you believe in yourself.
It’s never too early to start talking about Father’s Day on The Good Men Project. We’re looking for sponsors and contributors for our #ModernDayDad campaign. https://t.co/WJvKqq2kTe pic.twitter.com/j66LNCY0VG
— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 11, 2019
We celebrate Gay Pride all year long. But this year, we’re doing some special programing for a large-scale campaign #LoveEqually. We’re looking for both sponsors and contributors. Check it out! https://t.co/tkraXFPxLL pic.twitter.com/X2FlBEZb8Y
— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 11, 2019
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