Late one lazy night, I was watching a video of Michelle Obama give a speech at a predominately black college. She told them that when she applied for the college she wanted, there were people who told her that perhaps she shouldn’t go because she may embarrass herself. She told the college kids that they shouldn’t listen to the detractors because they didn’t know the potential each of them held. Here’s what she didn’t know and what the majority of people get wrong: those people aren’t saying it to be spiteful. In fact, they have good intentions and want the person they are giving advice to not to fail, so they give this nugget of knowledge in hopes that the person doesn’t falter. Is it wrong? Yes. Is it hurtful? Yes. Is the road to hell paved with good intentions? You better believe it, however, the take-away I want people to have is that these people are not rooting for you to fail. They are simply judging you based off of what they’ve seen, not necessarily what they know about you.
When we walk away from a situation like this, we oftentimes feel angry at the other party and at the world for not believing in us, but if we view it through the scope of their own misgivings and fears, we can see there isn’t too much anger to hold on to. In this life, people will always misjudge you, miscalculate how smart you are, and miss your level of perseverance. It’s not up to them to see your full potential and it is not up to you to prove to them what your potential is. The only person you ever have to prove your worth to is yourself, because you are the only person who matters. I wish it were all praise and accolades out there, but sometimes you have to encounter defeat to really understand who you are. Are you the type of person to lay down and die when the praise dries up or are you the type of person who thrives on poorly-intentioned advice? When you understand how crippling failure can be, you understand why people do the things they do. It makes you more compassionate for the very people who you think are keeping you down. At the same time, you must realize that you have your own voice.
There are million paths to take and a million ways to fail. There will be those along the way who will help you and those who will tear you down. There is no right way down the path, only the path. There is no right and wrong, only your and their judgment of right and wrong. When you start to see between the lines, you start to realize who you truly are and how you fit on your path.