“Perhaps I shouldn't be pushing people who want something but have been taught not to push themselves. Somewhere along the way, it seems, I forgot that it's none of my business if people choose to accept what they've got, to forget their dreams and to not seek to help those around them achieve what matters to them.”
This really struck a chord in me and made me think about Don Quixote chasing windmills. Now I am hearing The Impossible Dream song in my head. How many times have I said I couldn’t do something? How many times have I heard others say the same thing? What has my response been to myself and others? Am I an “encourager” or a “discourager”? Is it wrong to encourage others and therefore possibly setting them up for failure? Should I discourage people from following their dreams? Who am I to decide that they are unable to fulfill their dreams?
Growing up as the youngest child and my family sheltered me as much as possible from failures and disappointments. Unfortunately, I grew up feeling quite inadequate and insecure in my ability to achieve many things that I wanted to do. I know my family loved me and didn’t mean for me to feel this way and I didn’t realize I felt this way until many years later. In fact, I’m finding out more and more about my abilities as I try new things.
Sometimes though, it isn’t others who are putting limitations on me but myself who is putting those limits. I tell myself those lies that I can’t do something because of excuses and it keeps me from taking the risk of failure. In my head, I know those are lies but my heart just doesn’t seem to fight the big boss (the brain). I tell myself that there is no money, that I won’t be allowed to do this, that others won’t appreciate it, it is too much work for so little payback, and the list goes on. But I really don’t know unless I try.
I look at my students with disabilities and hear their dreams. I think that their dreams are impossible to reach because of their limitations. I feel that their dreams are unrealistic. Is it my job to tell them this? Or do I encourage them to work towards their dreams. So many times, I am told that their transition goals have to be realistic but who am I to decide that they can’t achieve their dreams.
I’m sure that when my husband, who was a terrible student in high school, left for the navy ad got his GED in the navy, no one expected him to amount to much. In fact, I know this because I ended up teaching at the high school he once attended. Boy, did I hear stories about my husband from many of his former teachers! Imagine his former teachers’ surprise when they heard that he was a judge and actually read law books to increase his knowledge (and did this reading voluntarily!). If he had told anyone during his high school years that this was his goal in life, they would have laughed at him. Many would have told him that his goal was unattainable and unrealistic. I’m just so glad that he had the self motivation to ignore anyone who held him back.
I plan on making a huge effort to listen to other people who share their dreams with me and encourage them to move forward, no matter what I think about their abilities. Because the fact is, I don’t know what will happen in the future. I don’t really know what someone’s true abilities are or how motivated they can become to reaching their dream. I want to be known as the “encourager” and not the “discourager.” I think Seth is wrong by saying it is none of his business. I think in our society, it is everyone’s business to encourage others and to show some faith in our fellow man.
By doing this, we are helping others be more successful in the classroom and in life. I don’t believe that we are setting them up for failure but giving them building blocks for a future.
What do you think?
Original image: 'Farewell Holland'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/95572727@N00/226973591 by: Trey Ratcliff