A few weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook how grateful she was for a mentor that believed in her and gave her encouraging words. I’d like to remember someone who didn’t believe in me, because he set the trajectory for other major events in my life over the past 10+ years.
In a November post I mentioned my previous career as a medical librarian. About halfway through my master’s degree in library science I discovered medical libraries and knew without a doubt that I wanted to go into that sub-field. By pure luck a class I had enrolled in was cancelled, and I had the opportunity to take a medical informatics course. We met virtually part of the time, and then every few weeks we had a live session at a large medical research facility’s library. The moment I walked in I knew I was home.
“You can’t work in [medical or corporate libraries] because you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in science or business,” smirked an administrator in my graduate library science program. Before I got the words out of my mouth he shot me down and leaned back in his chair with a Cheshire cat grin on his face and his hands perched on his Humpty Dumpty belly. He was more interested in his own accolades and political glad-handing than the needs of the students. I walked out of his office and never spoke to him again. His rudeness and absolute dismissal of my dream only fueled the fire. I took as many medical library courses as I could, aggressively pursued internships, and thanks to my internship contacts I snatched up a hospital library job that helped shape my life’s path, accomplishments, and even a few derailments for the last decade. If I want to take the high road I could remind myself of the quote “every person is a blessing or a lesson.” In my darker moments I think, “F*ck that guy!”
I once had a horrible abusive boyfriend who told me regularly that I was ugly, fat, a bad person, and would never make a man happy. I was so emotionally beaten down that I started to believe him until one day I couldn’t take anymore. I dumped him on the spot, took a road trip to Austin, and felt so free and alive for having exorcised that demon from my life. I slowly began to remember that I am beautiful, a good person, and deserving of love, and I regret that I had to learn it the hard way. The only contact I would be willing to have with him now is my hard fist smashing into his mushy, no bone-structure-having face, “taekwondo spirit” be damned. I’m taking the low road this time. I am not thankful for whatever purpose he had in my life. F*ck that guy.
Luckily (or maybe not) I haven’t run into any naysayers in taekwondo. They’re certainly not plying me with patronizing compliments to soothe my fragile little ego; I get LOTS of constructive criticism. The biggest naysayer I’ve had to overcome in tkd is myself. I’ve questioned my athletic abilities, my mental capabilities, why the hell I was doing it in the first place, and my drive to stay in it for the long haul. I’m still a work in progress. A black belt’s journey is never truly finished. If someone had the gall say to me, “You’ll never be a black belt,” my response would be, “Watch me.”
Listen to your naysayers. They may actually encourage you to keep striving. Or take the low road and punch them in the face. Y’know, whatever feels good.
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