by Jennifer Dyer
Have you ever been told you aren’t good enough?
In high school, I wanted to take an advanced placement English class, but I had to get a recommendation from my junior year English teacher. I was shocked at her response. “You’re not really AP material. You can’t.”
My cheeks filled with heat. My insides burned. I knew I had ADD. I knew I didn’t apply myself. I knew it would be hard. And I knew at that moment, I would prove her wrong.
In college, I encountered many more obstacles. My first paper in college was met with, “Have you EVER written a paper in your life?” My first debate in college began with hysterical, taunting laughter from my professor.
I don’t remember what grade I earned in AP English, but I loved that class. It took me years to apply myself enough to focus on the art of writing, but I eventually, hopefully, learned to string sentences together better than a trained monkey. And I learned that I enjoy speaking, but debating is not my strong suit.
Those experiences lit in me an inner fire to become better, and none came without effort and failure. Yet, all too often, I see others defeated when up against obstacles. They decide they have little to offer.
It’s simply not true!
Let me encourage you with a few principles about gifting and learning I have gathered over the years:
Don’t believe other’s discouraging words. Many people experience failure and decide they aren’t smart, aren’t good enough. Maybe no one ever helps them see that they are gifted in SOMETHING. God has gifted all of His children.
Focus is key. Some people have attention issues caused by external issues, and those can often be improved. But focus and applying oneself are keys to succeeding.
Case in point: A person I once knew had the 2nd highest GPA in a graduating class of 500. This person took the SAT’s numerous times, but could hardly make a high enough score to get into a college. Yet, that person has gone on to an incredibly successful career. They are very gifted, but still face challenges.
Everyone has intelligence gifts. In my career as a speech-language pathologist, I have worked with a variety of children and adults. ALL of them had areas of intelligence. My own daughter with autism has many HUGE obstacles, but she has multiple areas of high intelligence. Our challenge is to find ways to tap into them. (And school doesn’t tap into many of the types.) For an interesting article on intelligences see here.*
There are areas one is naturally more inclined to understand. I have many gifts, but the abstract mathematics my father and husband use in their jobs as engineers isn’t one of them. That doesn’t make me stupid. Just different.
Learning is hard work. If something is worth doing, it usually requires effort. Don’t believe that you are not gifted because you have to work hard to achieve something.
Learn from others. Everyone has something to teach you. Be willing to listen and learn, but also wise in what you decide to make a part of you.
Learning takes sacrifice. I had to prioritize. When many of my friends were out partying, I studied. And you know what? I don’t regret it at all. I learned in those early years that hard work is rewarding.
Sometimes we learn most from our failures. If I try a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that turns out like charred rubber, I can either decide I am a terrible cook or realize I have learned one way not to make cookies. Perhaps I might also invent a new type of glue. (Good story on sticky notes inventor here.)
Failure often makes us ready for success. Failure is an obstacle to overcome. Even in failure, I learn much.
God has gifted everyone with different areas of intelligence. Don’t sell yourself short.
I heard Dr. Kevin Leman interviewed the other day on Focus on The Family. His interview discussed Dr. Leman’s own journey with discovering his gifts. I’d highly recommend listening to the interview, and I’ve enjoyed every book of his I have read. It sounds like his newest book The Way of the Wise would be encouraging in this topic.
*I don’t agree with everything Gardner says, but it’s great information.