I’d like to say to all my fans out there, thanks for the support. And to all my doubters, thank you very much because you guys have also pushed me.
This picture is a reminder of times I’ve accomplished more than I would have thought possible because I’ve dug in and gotten stubborn when people who shall remain nameless have scoffed at my ability or actively discouraged me from doing something.
Case in point: whitewater rafting. I love rafting, and have gone several times. I was in my 40s, well past my physical prime (which was a two month period in my late teens, I think) when I saw a picture of people whitewater rafting and thought, “I should try that.” After I announced that I was planning a trip, I became a punchline for a few people. Their expectation seemed to be that I would come to my senses just before time to board the raft, realizing that rafting was not the sort of thing I would do.
I loved it. We primitive camped in the woods at Ohiopyle State Park, rafted, and had a great time, one of the highlights of my life. I’ve gone again a couple times, and I even took students on a small trip to whitewater raft in Kentucky.
That trip had its nay-sayers, too. Several students were ambitious organizers, helping myself and the other teacher in charge so this could happen, and my principal gave us his wholehearted support (and the money for the bus, which made the trip possible). But there were others who had myriad reasons the trip was a bad idea. The whisper campaign and teachers who had earnest conversations about things I may not have considered did take a toll and may have contributed to several students backing out.
It would have been easy to give up as the roadblocks grew against us going, just as it would have been easy (and cheaper) to stay home when I first decided to go rafting. Not doing it would have been easy to explain, with plenty of logical reasons to discard the idea. But the haters who denigrated the idea, and the frienemies who helpfully pointed out the potential pitfalls and lurking liabilities of going–they were a motivation to put on my best Alfred E. Neuman smile and insist everything was going as planned, better than, in fact.
Sometimes, negative people and unsupportive friends do stifle my mojo. No doubt, I’m as prone to succumbing to disparaging words–both from internal and external sources–as anyone. As a teacher and parent, I work to be an encouraging voice, challenging while supporting. I need those people too, the ones whose whipered “I know you can do it” resonates when I’m about to give up. But sometimes–and the bigger the challenge, the more I respond to this dynamic–proving someone wrong about my ability to meet a challenge is the underlying push that has made the difference. And for that, I am grateful.