I'll never forget those 4 words. They were said to me by my French teacher in high school after I cheated on my homework assignment.
There she was, sitting across from my parents in a parent-teacher conference. I knew I was in trouble, but what I didn't know was that she was about to look me in the eyes and say something that would have a long-lasting impact in my life.
”You are wasted potential.”
Talk about shame. I could feel my heart sink into my stomach as I let those painful words sink deep into my core. I betrayed her, and she made sure that I knew it.
Until the point I made the decision to let a French exchange student do my work, my teacher liked me. She thought I was smart, capable and eager to learn. She and I had built a relationship of trust, and she was proud of me. Now of this moment, every ounce of respect she had for me jumped out the window, never to be seen again.
So like a dog with a tail between my legs, I walked out of that parent teacher conference feeling ashamed and defeated.
But instead of using those words as fuel to better myself, I chose destruction. I decided to let all of my grades fail. I stopped caring. I stopped trying. My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I felt like a loser, so I became one. I became exactly what that teacher said I was.
Could I ever amount to anything? Would I always be "wasted potential" and nothing more? These words haunted me for years, and it affected every area of my life. Instead of believing I could do something and doing it, I became a slave to her statement. It was as if she put a curse on me, and I made no effort to lift it.
In other words, I let someone else define my identity.
Twenty years have passed since that day, and what I know now is this: I was wasting my potential, but it was up to me to change that.
When someone says something to us that’s true but painful to hear, we have a choice. We can either own up to it and improve, or we can keep doing the very thing that’s bringing us down.
You can prove them right, or prove them wrong. We all have potential. Will we waste it, or use it?