I heard my name as I was coming up the stairs from the basement of the art building. Two art professors thought they were alone and were talking freely about their students. So before I opened the door, I eavesdropped. It was a chance to hear what they really thought of me. I was like Job overhearing God and Satan wagering over his future. One was betting for me, the other wanted to make my life hell.
Professor W praised me. He was the person who years earlier saw my high school art and encouraged me to become a designer. He gave me a scholarship, convinced me to go to college in Nebraska, and changed my life. He always believed in my potential. But was he right?
Professor S hated me. I infuriated her because I questioned her assignments, took shortcuts, and my illustrations weren't very good. She didn't think I had what it took to become a graphic designer. She could have been right.
Crushed, I came around the corner and confronted my teachers. Through tears I told Professor S that she was wrong. I said she didn't know me, that she had me wrong, that when I become a professional designer she would regret not contributing anything to my success.
Despite my defiance, I thought I would have to drop out of college. You can't graduate without a handful of illustration classes and Professor S was the only person teaching them. Satan had bet against me and she held all the cards.
Professor W came to my rescue. After the eavesdropping incident had cooled down he met with me to devise a plan. He said, “We can do this.” He helped me devise an alternative path to graduation. He volunteered to teach me 1-on-1 through independent study classes that allowed me to focus on my strengths (computers and photography) and minimized my weaknesses (illustration and advertising). I graduated and have been a professional designer ever since.
There will always be villains in our lives, voices telling us what we can't achieve. It is so easy to fall into that choir, to feel doomed, to bet on failure, to drop out. We forget that we can be the hero, the one who believes in potential that nobody else can see. We can be the person who finds alternative paths to success, we can take on the responsibility 1-on-1 until the world bends to our will. Don't let the skeptics win, we can do this.
Thanks for reading. I tell stories every Saturday so you should follow me if you enjoy eavesdropping on my inner thoughts. Stay creative.