Risking Excellence

I am with my son’s friend, and we are headed to meet John downtown where he will be competing in a skateboard competition.  John is a very gifted skater and the odds are good that he will win, but he is nowhere to be found.  As time passes, I feel more and more anxious that something has happened to him, and begin to search in closets and corners, anticipating I am going to find him dead.  Suddenly, a car pulls up, dumps a body, and squeals away.  A crowd gathers, and as I make way through, I know it is John.  He is not dead, but severely beaten, enough to stop him from competing.

I wake up,  immediately afraid for my son, but once I am conscious enough to remember the focus of today’s writing, I realize the dream is about me.

I was eight-years-old when school officials began to pull me out of class and subject me to a series of tests.  “She is gifted,” they told my parents,” and we would like to accelerate her one grade and enroll her in a special class with her peers.  She will have to attend school across town, and transportation is not provided.”

My mother didn’t know what to think.  I was a girl, and according to her, girl’s who were smart did not do well in life. (Doing well, in my mother’s eyes, was being a stay-at-home mom with a husband who made a lot of money.)  My father supported the decision.

Gifted children often feel like an anomaly, and I was no exception.  I knew I didn’t fit in at the regular school, but I somehow always felt like they made a mistake with me and I didn’t belong in the gifted class either:  these kids were so smart and, well, geeky.  I didn’t think I fit the mold.  Academically, however, I thrived.  The self-contained classroom was far more engaging and intellectually stimulating.  I loved school!

After school was another matter.  While I was driven across town each morning, I had to take two city buses home each afternoon, arriving long after my old classmates had been dismissed for the day.  The bullies waited for me, and I soon became game for their taunting, and physical abuse.    When we moved out of town in the middle of grade eight, I was thrown in with the regular population and the rift was apparent.  A town thug was hired to beat me up one day after school.

I learned to hide my abilities, and refrained from competing with others.  I developed the expectation of being beaten, both literally and figuratively.

As I’ve mentioned before, John shares my introspective side – that part of me that doubts, questions, and turns things over and over.  The friend that accompanied me in the dream suffers from depression and delusions.  I have that side to myself also.  Combine the introspection with the inability to see beyond negative thinking and there is an expectation of futility:  why try?

John is a gifted skateboarder, and if the dream was real, I would encourage him to hire a bodyguard and go for it.  By objectifying the issue, is the dream telling me the same?  While you may have been beaten at times, you still hold the same bright potential, so don’t give up.  Just let go of the expectations.

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