I recently had a conversation with my older sister. To share the facts, my sister is brilliant. Successful in every possible way. She runs two non-profit organizations which she founded. She has a long career behind her as an extremely profitable entrepreneur, who always ran her business with integrity and strong values. She advocates for those without a voice, who the rest of society does not see as deserving of a second chance. She works with juveniles who have made bad choices and gotten into trouble, who the world throws away, and reaches a hand back to bring them up.
My sister is a success. She is amazing and makes me proud. And on the occasion of this conversation she was slotted to give a Ted Talk in front of 100 other women, on a panel of people who she felt were far above her station. When she looked over the list of her fellow participants she didn’t feel like she belonged, or that she measured up. When I looked at the list, I had the exact opposite reaction. No doubt in my mind that she belonged in this group and was a key player among them.
As she sat and read through her speech and scribbled notes in the margins, and rehearsed and revised and self edited; she looked up and told me that in high school, she had always gotten C’s in English and was never any good at it.
IN HIGH SCHOOL. My sister is about 40 years past being in High School. So what? I said. Who cares what you got in High School. How is that relevant to the woman who is sitting next to me at all ??? I tried to point out that she was a completely different person than she was in High School, as we all are.
Be the woman you are now ! The woman you are now is not a “C” student who is 16 years old and has had no life experiences. The woman you are now is so far beyond that girl, so much smarter, so much more seasoned, so much wiser and more balanced and self possessed. Just be the person you are now and stop thinking about who you were 40 years in the past. That woman deserves to give a Ted Talk and own that room. That woman is amazing and has done amazing things in her life.
But it made me think. How many of us live our whole lives as that 16 year old? I have friends who still talk about when they were kids, or bullied, or how hard their High School years were. Or worse, when they peaked in High School and they have nothing better since to build their personalities on. I probably do the same in my own way (although I will never admit it).
So from now I on I am going to try very hard to be the woman I am NOW. Right now. Right here – with all my mistakes I have made, bad and good decisions, life experiences, jobs held, boyfriends lost, fatness, skinniness, B’s and C’s in school. All of it. I am going to stand tall using all of that experience as my strength, because whether it was good or bad, it made me who I am today. I am not a C grade in High School English. I am a 49 year old woman, writer, wife, mom, special needs advocate, and passionate dreamer about what I want to be when I grow up.
(And as a side note, my sister nailed it at her Ted Talk, just like I knew she would! Another reason to be proud.)