I love it when people try to ruin my day.
While I usually try my best to live my life as if the world is conspiring in my favor (as opposed to conspiring against me), there are often moments when it is clear that certain individuals are not – it’s in their words and actions; in the sly venom or double meaning of ill intent encapsulated within seemingly neutral statements.
One big decision that not only forever changed my life but also brought a lot of negative opinions was the decision to leave the public education system forever. Suddenly, people were popping out of the woodwork everywhere to voice their “concern” – What about socialization? Don’t you miss the school system? What about your friends? Isn’t homeschooling for “special education” kids? How will you learn?!
One mother in particular was (and still is) especially adamant to irritate me to no end – even just last year when I saw her at Christmas party she had the audacity to ask me if I had friends. Looking back, the conversation was just hilarious, but at the time I was entirely too furious that someone could actually insinuate that I had no friends.
These kinds of things used to bother me. I used to get irritated, angry, upset, and hurt, but I never took it lying down. I schemed ways to get back at them, to prove them wrong; and for someone who was intent on being right all the time, proving someone wrong in best of ways—by actions, not words—was deliciously appealing.
And when I got angry? Oh boy. If the situation was bad, my anger made it ten times worse. I’d yell. I’d curse. I’d throw things. I’d hit things. I’d break things. I had a nasty little vindictive streak in me. And because I was convinced that I must be strong no matter what, whenever I felt even a tad vulnerable, I’d be furious. Furious at myself, and furious at the person responsible.
Over the years, things changed. For one, I mellowed out – having lived, learned and experienced a lot more in life tamed my highly volatile overreactive tendencies. I also made a lot of mistakes, which instilled a far more humble spirit in me. But one of the biggest things I learned over the years was how to turn negative things into positive things.
When people tell me I can’t do it, I first decide whether it’s something I’d want to do anyway before reacting in any way. If it’s something that interests me, I make it my life mission to prove them wrong. When several people lightly tossed the around the fact that I couldn’t run, it started to bother me. It was OK for me to say I couldn’t run, but when someone else said it? Ohhh, no.
So I joined a running club, and a couple months later, I did a 10K run. Going from a position where I couldn’t run a lap around the track to running 10K was a huge step. It was also made a big difference in my physical body – I lost weight, I was more fit, and best of all, I could do it. And that’s just one of the many examples.
Whenever something negative happens, I put it to good use. When I feel anger coming on, I fight it and take it to the pavement – rain, snow, or sunshine, I’ll run it out until I feel the endorphins kicking in. Once that happens, I’m like happy on crack – anger? what anger?
Whenever someone tells me I can’t do something academically, I’ll sit down and crack open the books. I might put that negativity to good use and write a killer essay that’s probably overdue, or I might try to divide and conquer something more brain-splitting like math. Either way, I actually work better when I know someone doesn’t believe I can.
So please, tell me I can’t do it. Tell me I’m too young, that dream too big, that I want things far from my reach, that I’m crazy for rejecting the standard and wanting more. Try to belittle me, undermine my authority, ignore what I have to say, and make me feel as if I should rethink my beliefs and principles. Try to ruin my day and break my spirit. Say it to my face, and if the need strikes me, watch me prove you wrong.
Go on, make my day.